David Nixon, 36, a care worker from Barnsley, was one of four defendants found guilty at Inner London Crown Court on Tuesday for causing a public nuisance by blocking the junction of Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street in London on October 25, 2021.
The six-day trial started with Judge Silas Reid ruling that the four defendants could not refer to their motivations for blocking the motorway in their defence.
As with the earlier Insulate Britain jury trials, the defendants were each barred from referring to the climate crisis, insulation or fuel poverty during the trial.
However, upon sentencing, Nixon, of Kirkstall Road, defied the judge’s ruling and was subsequently convicted for contempt of court due to his remarks and jailed for eight weeks.
He said: “If I’d known at the time I sat on the road that nearly 18 months later the arguments presented at trial would be about buses I’d have been disbelieving, and yet here we are.
“The prosecution claimed that 8,500 people were disrupted by bus diversions on the October 25, 2021.
“They argued that that is significant and substantial - coincidentally, in the year 2020, it was estimated that 8,500 people died over winter due to living in cold homes.
“We are talking about diversions in the face of death, that millions of people in the UK are living in fuel poverty, which is utterly shameful in 2023, that is what I class as significant and substantial.
“And that is before mentioning climate change. There are posters around the court saying ‘we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator’.
“Climate hell - that is also why we sat on the road, to tell the truth about the direction we are heading in and prompt action before it’s too late.”
The trial concluded and while the jury considered their verdict, Nixon was convicted of contempt after declining two offers from Judge Reid to apologise to the court, telling the judge: “I wish I could but I don’t think it would be genuine.”
Nixon, along with Kai Bartlett, 21, a former law student from Shrewsbury, Alyson Lee, 64, a retired teaching assistant and mother of two from Derbyshire and Christian Murray-Leslie, 79, a retired doctor, also from Derbyshire, will appear again for sentencing for the public order offence on March 24.
“I totally appreciate that our decision to block roads disrupts people’s days, especially so given how fragile the economy is,” David added.
“But if serious, fast action isn’t taken by the government to invest in renewable energy and stop oil operations in the North Sea, we’re doomed - it’s code red time and we need to salvage something as it will be too late.”