Four face trial over toppling of Edward Colston statue

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Protesters gathered outside of Bristol Crown Court on the opening day of the trial

A group known as the Colston 4 have gone on trial charged with pulling down a slave trader’s statue during a city centre protest.

Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, Jake Skuse, 33, and Sage Willoughby, 22, were greeted by dozens of supporters waving banners as they arrived for the start of their eight-day trial today (December 13)

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The four have all been charged with causing criminal damage in connection with the toppling of Edward Colston statue in Bristol city centre during protests last year.

They have all denied the charges and were pictured entering Bristol Crown Court this morning.

Among the signs being held aloft outside the court were messages including ‘we’re glad not to see Colston on a pedestal anymore’ and ‘solidarity with the Colston statue topplers’.

Their trial is being heard by The Recorder of Bristol His Honour Judge Peter Blair QC.

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Left to right, Jake Skuse, Rhian Graham’s partner, Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford and Sage Willoughby arrive at Bristol Crown Court Left to right, Jake Skuse, Rhian Graham’s partner, Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford and Sage Willoughby arrive at Bristol Crown Court
Left to right, Jake Skuse, Rhian Graham’s partner, Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford and Sage Willoughby arrive at Bristol Crown Court | Tom Wren / SWNS

Prosecutor William Hughes QC will open his case after a jury has been sworn in.

The charge facing Graham, of Bristol, Ponsford, of Bishopstoke, Hampshire, Skuse, 36, of Little Stoke, South Gloucestershire; and Willoughby, of Gloucester Road in Bristol, is that on June 7 last year in Bristol they ‘jointly with each other and others unknown and without lawful excuse’ damaged property, namely the statue of Edward Colston and a plinth of a value unknown belonging to Bristol City Council.

The charge accuses them of ‘intending to destroy or damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged’.

Protestors gather ahead of the trial of four people accused of pulling down the statue of Edward ColstonProtestors gather ahead of the trial of four people accused of pulling down the statue of Edward Colston
Protestors gather ahead of the trial of four people accused of pulling down the statue of Edward Colston | Tom Wren / SWNS

The toppling made headlines around the world and took place during a Black Lives Matter rally in Bristol city centre following the murder in the US of George Floyd.

It was pulled down during a march and then dragged to a harbour and pushed into the water.

It was later recovered by Bristol City Council and has been put on display at a museum.

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