England

Boat Race protester Trenton Oldfield guilty of public nuisance

  • 26 September 2012
  • From the section England

A man who disrupted this year's University Boat Race has been found guilty of causing a public nuisance.

Trenton Oldfield, 36, of Myrdle Street, east London, swam into the path of crews, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

Oldfield had denied the charge, after the 158th race between Oxford and Cambridge was delayed for about half an hour, on 7 April.

Judge Anne Molyneux said all options were open to the court, including jail, when he is sentenced on 19 October.

"Mr Oldfield has accepted that he disrupted the boat race," she said.

Trenton Oldfield said inequality was increasing across much of the world

Footage of the race, which was eventually won by Cambridge, was shown to the jury.

Earlier, the jury heard a statement from four-time Olympic gold medal-winning rower Sir Matthew Pinsent, who was assistant umpire of the race.

"The risk for the swimmer was great," he said in the statement, read to the court by prosecutor Louis Mably.

"He could have been killed if he had been struck by an oar or the rigging, which is metal."

Sir Matthew, who was immediately behind the two eight-man university crews on a launch with umpire John Garrett, initially thought he had spotted a balloon.

Their launch was followed by 25 motorised boats, carrying officials, police, sponsors and camera crews, so they were "alarmed" to realise it was a person and he was "worried about the safety of the swimmer".

'Symbol around class'

The court heard Oldfield, who had moved to the UK from Australia, had held a number of jobs in social projects.

However, Judge Molyneaux said: "The court will be considering if a custodial sentence is necessary."

Oldfield, who admitted swimming in front of the crews, said he decided to demonstrate after hearing about the government's public spending cuts, which he said were "worse than in Dickens's time".

On targeting the race, he said: "It's a symbol of a lot of issues in Britain around class. Seventy per cent of government pushing through very significant cuts are Oxford or Cambridge graduates.

"It was a symbolic gesture to these kind of issues."

Speaking outside the court, Oldfield said: "As inequality increases across Britain and much of the world, so does the criminalisation of protest.

"My solidarity is with everyone working towards more equitable societies everywhere."

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