Insulate Britain protester jailed for five weeks after blocking traffic on the M4

13 March 2023, 11:26 | Updated: 13 March 2023, 11:27

Stephen Pritchard (left) was jailed at Inner London Crown Court after being found guilty of obstructing the motorway on October 1, 2021
Stephen Pritchard (left) was jailed at Inner London Crown Court after being found guilty of obstructing the motorway on October 1, 2021. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

An Insulate Britain protester has been jailed for five weeks after blocking traffic on the M4 in 2021.

Stephen Pritchard, 63, from Bath, was jailed at Inner London Crown Court on Monday over a demonstration which saw him and several others disrupt 10,000 vehicles at Junction 3 of the motorway on October 1 2021.

His co-defendants - former probation officer Ruth Cook, 71, gardener Roman Paluch-Machnik, 29, and carpenter Oliver Rock, 42 - were each given six-week sentences suspended for 18 months on the proviso they do not offend again.

The three were also ordered to serve 100 hours' community service.

Judge Silas Reid said Pritchard, a former parish councillor, was being jailed because he previously told the court that he would not stop taking part in disruptive action as a matter of "conscience".

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Ruth Cook, 71, Roman Paluch-Machnik, 29, and Oliver Rock, 42, were given suspended sentences
Ruth Cook, 71, Roman Paluch-Machnik, 29, and Oliver Rock, 42, were given suspended sentences. Picture: Alamy

The other three defendants previously said they had been deterred from future disruptive protest action by experiences in court and prison.

Judge Reid told Pritchard: "It is not appropriate for me to suspend the inevitable sentence... you will serve up to half of your sentence in prison."

Speaking to all four defendants, he said: "None of you have shown any remorse for your actions and in fact wear them with pride."

The 2021 protest saw some of the defendants glue themselves to the tarmac on the M4 close to Heathrow Airport in west London, disrupting traffic flow in both directions for around two hours.

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