Two Just Stop Oil protestors who threw orange paint over a building in Aberdeen city centre have escaped punishment after a sheriff questioned whether they were taken advantage of.
Alex Milne, 23, and Louis Fraser, 25, were part of a group that doused the Silver Fin office block on Union Street with bright orange paint to protest occupants Barclays Bank’s involvement with fossil fuel projects.
The pair had been due to stand trial accused of breach of the peace but tendered last-minute pleas of guilty to an alternative charge of malicious mischief.
The court was told both are “vulnerable” and now regret carrying out the protest.
Fiscal depute Emma Petersen told Aberdeen Sheriff Court: “At midday on November 14 2022, employees within the Silver Fin were on the ground floor at reception.
£1,000 clean-up costs after Just Stop Oil protest
“One of the witnesses looked out of the windows and saw the accused do that and that the orange paint was all over the window.”
Witnesses then locked the doors and contacted the police.
Ms Petersen went on: “Police attended and observed the accused standing outside holding a Just Stop Oil banner.
“They each had a pail of paint with them and they were all covered in the remnants of the orange paint.”
They were arrested.
Footage later uploaded to Twitter/X showed the group confirming they were acting on behalf of Just Stop Oil, targeting Barclays and Shell.
Ms Petersen said the majority of the paint was watered down and washed out without causing damage.
However, a specialist cleaning service was required for the job, at a cost of just under £1,000.
Milne and Fraser, both of Headland Court, Aberdeen, pled guilty to malicious mischief.
A third accused, Kayleigh Matthews, 23, of King Street, Aberdeen, was not present. She previously pled not guilty and the case against her is still ongoing.
Defence agent Claire Ryan, representing Milne, said: “They were involved in a protest in respect of climate change and they wanted to highlight issues surrounding that.
“They became involved by seeing leaflets around town and went to a couple of meetings.
“They are quite vulnerable.”
She said her client suffered from mental health issues and was “reclusive”.
‘Quite quickly after the protest they regretted it’
The lawyer continued: “They became involved in this and quite quickly after the protest they regretted it.
“She suffered panic attacks after this.”
Ms Ryan said Milne had not been involved in any other protests.
Solicitor David Sutherland, appearing for Fraser, said the same situation applied to his client in respect of the terms of his involvement.
He said the music student also suffered from mental health issues and had no previous convictions.
Mr Sutherland asked for Fraser to be admonished.
Sheriff Margaret Hodge told the pair: “I take into account what’s been said on your behalves by your solicitors.
“I accept you’re both perhaps vulnerable and possibly have been taken advantage of.”
She admonished both accused, meaning the conviction goes on their records but they are not given any punishment.
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