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Charcoal Three found guilty

Three Catholic peace activists were found guilty of criminal damage for writing on the ministry of defence with charcoal.

On 3 September, a London magistrate refused to grant a compensation claim of £300 demanded by the ministry of defence (MoD) from Catholic peace activists Ray Towey, 68, Henrietta Cullinan, 50, and Katrina Alton, 44.

Earlier, the three had been joined by 25 supporters for a time of prayer outside Hammersmith magistrates’ court before a three-hour trial.

The three activists offered clear and moving accounts of their peace actions at the MoD during Holy Week when they marked the building with blessed charcoal, writing: 'Trident Crucifies the Poor' and 'Disarm Trident'. They all argued that they had lawful excuse and moral convictions for what they did.

They were found guilty of causing criminal damage – using charcoal – to the walls of the ministry of defence (MoD) in London on 2 April, but were given absolute discharges and only asked to pay £200 in court costs each.

An MoD claim for £400 cleaning costs was not granted.

All three were released after sentencing, despite making clear that they could not in conscience pay the court costs.

Pat Gaffney is general secretary of Pax Christi.