A bard performed an emotional poem he wrote in a prison cell as part of his defence in court.
Simon Welsh, 34, of High Street in Balcombe, recited his poem which recollects his emotions in the lead-up to his arrest for obstructing the highway outside a controversial fracking site last year.
And at the end of day three of his trial at Brighton Magistrates’ Court, people sat in the public gallery gave him a standing ovation.
Mr Welsh was arrested on September 10 last year on the B2036 London Road near Balcombe outside oil firm Cuadrilla’s drilling site which had attracted a large number of protestors.
At the time of his arrest, he told Brighton Magistrates’ Court he was in a trance-like state of mind and did not register three police officers trying to engage with him.
Mr Welsh was singing an adapted version of the hymn Jerusalem through a megaphone which begins with the line “and did they frack in ancient time”.
An order had been issued that morning by the then chief constable Martin Richards, stating that protestors had to move to a designated area.
The court was told by Mr Welsh’s defence barrister Tom Wainwright that the order was not valid, and therefore was impossible to be complied with.
Prosecuting, Jonathan Edwards told the court the defendant had deliberately ignored the requests of PCs Lee Middlebrook, Paul Harris and Ross Longland to move to the designated area.
Mr Welsh, who was questioned for two hours, said: “At that moment I would not have been able to distinguish between the three officers and three tall grannies – I was singing my heart out.
“If I had known there were officers trying to talk to me I would have become like a five-year-old boy and run across the road to comply with what they were saying.”
The court also heard from Vanessa Vine of Frack Free Sussex and friend Helen Savage, who described Mr Welsh as someone who becomes engrossed in the moment when he is singing.
Mr Edwards told the court the crown believed the defendant was aware of the order, having discussed it in detail on Facebook hours before his arrest.
Sergeant Mark Redbourn also told Mr Welsh the order was in place moments before he was arrested.
Mr Welsh told the court his response to the sergeant was “I’m here to sing”.
Judge Peter Crabtree will now receive closing statements and his verdict on Mr Welsh’s alleged breach of section 14 of the public order act will be heard at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on May 1.
THE POEM Today I was arrested for the power of my voice, I didn’t get arrested by design or wilful choice.
They arrested me for singing with my blessed heart and soul, Do they understand that freedom for humanity's my goal?
They say I was arrested for ignoring what they said, But that wasn’t how it happened in my heart or in my head.
I was standing in the crowd when the music set me free, And in that heightened state let me explain what I could see.
Three men standing near me in the bustle and the noise, As we sang for hope and freedom – I was singing with the boys.
I looked into their eyes and I sang with all my heart, And in that breath I knew that we’d been brothers from the start.
I did not see their helmets, did not register their word, The lyrics and the vibration of the anthem’s all I heard.
I did not see their authorship all I saw was kin, And my heart confirmed this truth and welcomed these three brothers in.
The beauty of this moment was both empty and complete, My eyes were streaming tears and I couldn’t feel my feet.
And then, without a warning, I was pounced upon and grabbed, I started then to understand, the understanding stabbed.
These brothers work for forces that care nothing for the heart, And although the policing uniform’s presentable and smart, It’s like the cell I’m sitting in – solid, square and bleak, No room in here for questions or the answers that we seek.
The uniform, the cell – I think they truly are the same, And in this feeling I let go the need to point and blame.
Our brothers and our sisters – they are trying to do their best, In a system that is broken and that needs to be addressed.
But how does one address an institution of control, That’s been corrupted by an entity that does not have a soul?
The law has been corrupted by financial corporate might, But no one here is responsible there’s no one here to fight.
So how do we say no to this corporate agenda?
Who if not the police will be humanity’s defender?
As I sit here in this prison cell, I know not what to do, Though I hear the answer stirring in the hearts of me and you.