Three of the four people charged with criminal damage following the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol last year have said they will ‘fight this case vigorously’.
All four of the people charged in relation to the incident pleaded ‘not guilty’ at Bristol Magistrates Court this morning, Monday, January 25, and then elected for a jury trial at Bristol Crown Court to be held later this year.
The four were charged that on June 7 in the City of Bristol they ‘jointly with each other and others unknown without lawful excuse, damaged property, namely the statue of Edward Colston and a plinth of a value unknown belonging to Bristol City Council, intending to destroy or damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged.’.
The four are: Rhian Graham, 29, of Colston Road, Easton in Bristol; Milo Ponsford, 25, of Otter Close in Bishopstoke, Hampshire; Jake Skuse, 36, of Farley Close in Little Stoke, South Gloucestershire; and Sage Willoughby, 21, of Gloucester Road in Bristol.
Lawyers for three of the four issued a statement saying they will contest the charges. Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors issued a statement saying they represent three of the four.
All four appeared for the first time at Bristol Magistrates Court today.
Raj Chada, Head of Criminal Defence, and Laura O’Brien, Associate at the social-justice law firm Hodge Jones & Allen have made the following statement on behalf of three of the defendants: “We will fight these criminal charges vigorously on behalf of our clients. We are committed to defending them and their right to a fair trial in this important case. We ask that their privacy is respected.”
Each of the four has different legal counsel for the case. Mr Chada is representing Jake Skuse, while Miss O’Brien is representing Rhian Graham.
The case was adjourned at Bristol Magistrates Court today and sent to Bristol Crown Court, where the first hearing will take place on February 8.