Sheffield tree campaigner sentenced for injunction breach

image copyrightPA
image captionCalvin Payne, from Sheffield, was found in contempt of court on three counts

A campaigner has been given a suspended jail sentence for breaching an injunction banning people from taking action to prevent tree felling.

Calvin Payne, 44, was found in contempt of court for twice stepping inside "safety zones" erected around trees due to be cut down in Sheffield.

He was also found to have breached the order by inciting others on Facebook to break the injunction.

Mr Payne was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for a year.

He was also ordered to pay £16,000 in costs.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Males told Mr Payne each offence was a "deliberate breach" and he could have had "no complaint" had he been sent to jail.

He added: "This is your final chance."

Speaking outside court Mr Payne said: "I apologise to the judge for being caught up in this and I have no contempt for the judge or the court but I do for the policy that we are fighting and I'm not ashamed or retracting my actions.

"However, from here I will be engaging in the 95% plus of the campaign which doesn't fall under the injunction."

Ahead of the hearing at Sheffield Crown Court dozens of people gathered outside the building, shouting 'Calvin' and waving placards bearing Mr Payne's face above the words 'Free Spirit'

image captionCalvin Payne's supporters gathered outside Sheffield Crown Court

Thousands of trees have been cut down in Sheffield as part of the council's £2bn 25-year Streets Ahead project, which is being carried out by contractor Amey.

Campaigners argue many of the felled trees were healthy and have staged a series of protests in a bid to stop them being cut down.

Mr Payne was found to have breached the injunction on 28 and 29 September by standing inside safety zones erected on Kenwood Road, in Nether Edge.

He was also found in contempt for a comment made online urging "as many people as possible" to break the injunction.

Mr Payne was one of three campaigners brought to court for alleged breaches of the order.

However, the case against green councillor Alison Teal was dismissed while Siobhan O'Malley avoided action after signing an agreement with Sheffield City Council stating she will not break the injunction in future.

The council said it welcomed the "clear message" the court had sent about the need to respect the injunction adding that any future breaches would leave the council "no other option but to pursue further court action".

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