By Megan Evans, News Editor
Four people accused of criminal damage for the toppling of the Edward Colston statue have been found not guilty by majority jury verdict.
All four people standing trial for the toppling of a statue of notorious slave trader Edward Colston have been acquitted by a jury at Bristol Crown Court this afternoon.
BREAKING: The #Colston4, who stood trial over toppling the statue of Edward Colston in June 2020, have been found not guilty of criminal damage by majority jury verdict in #Bristol.#ColstonFour #Colston pic.twitter.com/CRxghoRAfF— Epigram (@EpigramPaper) January 5, 2022
Rhian Graham, 30; Milo Ponsford, 26; Jake Skuse, 37; and Sage Willoughby, 22, were charged after a monument of the 17th century slave trader was pulled down and thrown into Bristol’s harbourside during a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020.
There were cheers in the public gallery as the jury returned their verdict, while a number of supporters waited outside in solidarity with the defendants.
The jury had previously failed to reach a unanimous decision and so was able to return a majority verdict of at least ten out of twelve jurors. After three hours, the verdict was announced as not guilty.
The ‘Colston 4’ were the only people to stand trial following the events of June 7 2020, which saw the statue removed from its plinth and rolled into the harbour. The trial has been ongoing since December 13 2021.
Speaking after the trial, Raj Chada, representative for Mr Skuse, described the prosecution of the Colston 4 as ‘shameful.’
In the docks, Mr Willoughby stated: ‘Having a statue of someone of that calibre in the middle of the city I believe is an insult, and I will continue to believe that whatever the outcome of this.’
A press conference has been taking place in Bristol this evening following the acquittal of the four defendants.
Featured Image: Epigram / Rufus Atkins
Have you been following the Colston 4 court case? What do you think about the verdict? Let us know!