The evidence against the first three people arrested for squatting in the country was branded “woe- fully inadequate” at their trial yesterday.

Alistair Cannell, 23, of no fixed abode, Tobias Sedgwick, 23, and Dirk Duputell, 30, both of Gladstone Place, Brighton, are charged with squatting in a residential building and obstructing a police officer.

But the trio’s defence lawyers yesterday lambasted the evidence offered by the prosecution about the incident in London Road on September 3, 2012, two days after the law was brought into force.

They are calling for the case to be thrown out. Sussex Police were called to the flat above a lighting shop, believed to have been squatted by about 15 people.

Prosecutor Yolanda Addison told the Brighton Magistrates’ Court a number of people climbed out of the windows when warned to leave by Christopher Atwell, director of property management company Veritas, in the presence of police.

It is understood that mask-wearing Cannal, Sedgwick and Duputell were found in the loft, super-glued together by their hands around a wooden post.

After a special police protest removal team detached the three defendants they climbed out of the loft and lay on the floor of the flat, refusing to leave.

But the three defence lawyers said there was no proof presented that the former office and storage rooms had been lawfully converted into flats, a project given planning permission in 1994.

Rebecca Hill, representing Cannell, said: “The police and Veritas’ evidence that it is residential is woefully inadequate.”

The lawyers said there is also no proof the accused were living in the building. Giving evidence, Sgt Robert Lewis said that Duputell had admitted living in the building moments before the police raided the building on September 3.

But PC Henry Cox later admitted: “He (Sgt Lewis) didn’t specify (if Duputell was living in the ground floor commercial unit or upstairs).

He simply said ‘are you living there?’.”

In cross examination Inspector William Russell Whitehead admitted that the defendants may not have been living in the property.

Last night magistrates were unable to reach a decision on an application that there is no case to answer. The trial continues at noon today.

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