Ben HaywardDecember 10th
2020

Four people have been charged with criminal damage in connection with the throwing of a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour. 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 32, and Sage Willoughby, 21, have been charged in relation to the incident, which made national news headlines on June 7th.

The four are set to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on January 25th following a review of evidence provided by Avon and Somerset Police to the (CPS).

A CPS spokesperson said: “The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against all four are now active and that they have the right to a fair trial.

“It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

The charges come after a further six people had accepted conditional cautions for criminal damage for their part in the incident, the BBC reports, meaning that although it will go their criminal record, they will avoid prosecution in the courts and any further punishment.

Conditions of the caution meant the six have to complete a questionnaire from the We Are Bristol History Commission, set up by Bristol City Council, in which they can set out their reasons for their actions as well as their ‘concerns and thoughts going forward’.

According to Bristol Live, the six have also been ordered to pay a fine of £100, which will be donated to Nilaari, a Bristol-based Black and minority ethnic-led charity that provides specialist services for people with complex needs and other mental health challenges.

The Colston statue has since been recovered by Bristol City Council, and head been assessed to have suffered £3,750 worth of damage. After preservation work it is expected to be given a new home in a city museum.

The plinth that previously held the statue of Colston has remained empty for the most part since the statue was pulled down, though it has been briefly occupied by art installations including a sculpture of BLM protestor Jen Reid holding her fist in the air and more recently a small figurine of Star Wars character Darth Vader, following the death of actor Dave Prowse who played the role. 

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