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Students arrested at University of Sussex protest are cleared
Three student activists arrested for their part in a major protest have been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Caradog Jones, 19, Kristina Ilieva, 24, and Sarah Becker, 25, were charged with obstructing police at a demonstration at the University of Sussex Falmer Campus on April 2 last year.
They were each set to face a three-day trial– but all charges were dismissed by magistrates before it finished.
Earlier in the hearing at Brighton Magistrates’ Court Sergeant Rachel Glenton told how students had been “abusive” in a “hostile” demonstration.
The protest was the culmination of a 54-day occupation of the university’s Bramber House building.
Chris Prior, prosecuting, described how activists made a human barrier across a road to stop a police vehicle getting through.
Officers moved in and were ordered to arrest any of those refusing to get out of the way.
Sgt Glenton, who was leading a small team on the day, described the operation as “very difficult” in “hostile conditions”.
Giving her evidence, she said: “There were lots of people filming and taking pictures and trying to put cameras in our faces.
“They were chanting and trying to provoke a reaction.
“It was a very difficult and hostile situation.”
Sgt Glenton described how after fellow officers arrested a student, a man with a goatee beard – later identified as Mr Jones – ran towards them in an “aggressive” and “abusive” manner.
After refusing to step back, she took his right arm while a fellow officer took his left.
She told how he continued to struggle before the other officer “took him to the floor” and arrested him.
Shahida Begum, representing Mr Jones, said her client had been playing his harmonica shortly before the incident.
She added: “Yes, he gestured towards his friend but he’s only trying to see if she is OK.
“And he was taken hold of straight away.”
Owen Greenhall, representing Miss Ilieva, told the court her arrest had breached her right to freedom of expression.
Mr Jones and Miss Becker, of Farman Street, Hove, and Miss Ilieva, of St Phillips House, Station Approach, Falmer, had all their charges dismissed on day two of the trial.