TWO INSULATE BRITAIN supporters were jailed on 21 April, after they told a sentencing hearing at Inner London Crown Court that they planned to continue in civil resistance until the government decarbonises the UK housing stock and halts new oil and gas exploration.

The Rev Mark Coleman, a retired priest from Rochdale and Catherine Rennie-Nash, a retired teacher and grandmother from Kendal, appeared along with five others: Daphne Jackson, a psychotherapist and grandmother from Cumbria, Stephanie Aylett,  a medical sales representative from St Albans, Beatrice Pooley, an English teacher from Kendal, Simon Reding, an environmental consultant from Manchester and Helen Redfern, a grandmother and social enterprise founder from Gateshead.

During the hearing, Judge Reid questioned the seven about their future intentions, and in particular asked whether they intended to continue in civil resistance. He indicated that this would determine whether a suspended or a custodial sentence should be given.

Mark Coleman and Catherine Rennie-Nash each declared that they would continue in civil resistance and were given custodial prison sentences of five weeks each of which they will serve half before being released, following which they will be on probation for 18 months. Stephanie Aylett, Simon Reding and Helen Redfern were given sentences of between three and six weeks suspended for 18 months. Daphne Jackson and Beatrice Pooley were ordered to do community service of 60 hours over 12 and 18 months respectively.

Speaking to the court, Mark Coleman said: “I want to state that I acted to protect human life, to draw attention to the death and destruction caused by rising emissions and the impacts of cold damp homes on the health of the citizens of our country. I had learned of the effects of fuel poverty when I worked for the charity Age Concern in the 1980s. Later, in the Liverpool and Rochdale parishes where I served as parish priest, I saw the misery caused by these uninsulated homes and the fuel poverty and debt that often ensues. “

“In the ordination service priests are told that they should ‘resist evil, support the weak, defend the poor, and intercede for all in need’. For me of course it has moral authority. Poor people are more likely to die prematurely. I have tried to be true to my ordination vows. I see it as part of my vocation as a priest, to continue to resist until the government acts. I expect that this civil resistance will involve sitting on the public highway again.”

Mark Coleman and Daphne Jackson were ordered to pay £3,500 prosecution costs. Beatrice Pooley and Helen Redfern had costs of £600 and £150 respectively. Catherine Rennie Nash, Stephanie Aylett and Simon Reding were not required to pay prosecution costs. All except Stephanie Aylett were ordered to pay a victim surcharge of between £95 and £128.

As with all the Insulate Britain public nuisance trials at Inner London Crown Court, those sentenced were subject to Judge Reid’s order banning them from mentioning fuel poverty, the climate crisis or civil resistance when defending their actions in front of the jury.

Earlier in the week Alyson Lee, a retired teaching assistant from Derby, David Nixon, a care worker from Barnsley and Christian Murray-Leslie, a retired Doctor from Derbyshire were also given prison sentences of five weeks after stating they would continue in civil resistance.

On social media, Mark Coleman’s son Harvey said his father would be “thrilled” to hear from people who support him whilst in prison. Postcards or letters can be sent to: Jonathan Mark Coleman A4651EW, HMP Thameside, Griffin Manor Way, Thamesmead London, SE28 0FJ.

* Source: Insulate Britain