Woman gets 6 months for RAF Fairford damage
RAF MILDENHALL, England — An English peace activist convicted for sneaking onto RAF Fairford and damaging equipment to protest the Iraq war was sentenced Friday to six months’ house arrest.
Margaret Jones, 58, will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on her ankle as a penalty for the March 2003 break-in, according to England’s Telegraph newspaper.
Jones, a university lecturer, was convicted alongside 61-year-old Paul Milling last month on charges of trespassing and conspiracy to cause criminal damage.
Milling received a release conditional on good behavior as well as a fine of 250 pounds, roughly $500.
Jones and Milling used hammers and bolt cutters to disable fuel tankers and trailers on March 13, 2003.
They said their actions were an attempt to prevent the killing of innocents during the “shock and awe” phase of the war by preventing Air Force bombers from taking off, according to published reports.
The damage done to instrument panels for three tankers and the cutting of brake cables for 15 bomb-carrying trailers is estimated to have cost about 10,000 pounds, or $20,000, according to reports.
RAF Fairford is largely a staging base for Air Force bombers.
The convictions of Jones and Milling, a former magistrate, were the first the government has secured after six trials and two hung juries involving the so-called “Fairford Five,” a group of English activists who broke onto Fairford in early 2003 to alter bombing efforts in Iraq.
In June, activist Josh Richards was cleared of similar charges after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his case for the second time.
Toby Olditch and Philip Pritchard were cleared in May of conspiring to sabotage U.S. bombers in connection with a March 2003 incident in which they tried to lodge nuts and bolts into a plane’s turbines.
The original trial of Olditch and Pritchard ended with a hung jury in late 2006.
After his conviction in July, Milling said that aside from Jones he had not met any of the other people who broke into Fairford in 2003 before the incidents.
Jones could not be reached for comment Monday.
Milling said last month that safety of personnel was an utmost concern during the 2003 break-in, and before they were caught, he and Jones placed laminated signs for airmen letting them know which equipment had been affected.