Sussex woman convicted for involvement in Just Stop Oil blockades at Essex fuel depots

A woman from Sussex has become the first in the country to be convicted of aggravated trespass in connection with the wave of Just Stop Oil protests at fuel sites, police confirmed today (Sunday, April 17).
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Essex Police said Catherine Maclean had been charged with aggravated trespass after an incident in Thurrock on Wednesday (April 13).

The 64-year-old admitted the charge at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Saturday, April 16).

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She was ordered to pay a total of £409, including a £270 fine, £105 in court costs and a £34 victim surcharge.


Maclean, of Cuckfield Road, Hurstpierpoint, near Hassocks, appeared alongside James Skeet, 34, of Drayton Street, Manchester, and Stephanie Aylett, 27, of High Oaks, St Albans, at court yesterday, police said.

They were also charged with aggravated trespass and breach of bail conditions.

They denied the offence and challenged the bail breach, police said.

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Magistrates heard how both Skeet and Aylett had been arrested multiple times in Essex since the incidents of disruption began in the early hours of April 1.

Both were remanded into custody to appear in the same court next week.

To date, Essex Police have charged 23 people in connection with disruption caused in Thurrock over the last 17 days.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan said: “To have achieved the first conviction in relation to the disruption that parts of the country have experienced over the last 17 days is a real testament to the investigative team we have in place here at Essex Police.

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“There is no doubt that this has proved to be a challenging investigation which has required a great deal of time and work from officers, and I want to place on record my thanks to them.

“Sadly, Ms Maclean’s actions means she now has a criminal record. No one, least of all my officers, wants to see this happen but it is a timely reminder that if you come to Essex to engage in trespass, even though you may see it as protest, you will be arrested, you will be charged and that is likely to lead to a criminal conviction.

“We are not anti-protest in any way; individuals have a protected right to protest but these incidents have unfortunately crossed into criminality and we have been left with no other option but act and seek authorisation from the Crown Prosecution Service to charge people.”

Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, who is overseeing our investigation, added: “Unfortunately for Ms Maclean, she had no option but to admit the offence she was charged with.

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“The investigators who we have working on this team are thorough, focussed and determined. We have a strong plan in place to deal with this criminality, as yesterday’s convictions shows.

“In total, 23 people have now been charged as part of this operation with cases being built against a number of other people.

“Our message to anyone intent on causing disruption here in Essex is clear and simple; don’t do it, our officers will arrest you and our first-class investigators will build a case against you, leaving you with very little option but admit the offences.”