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Anti fracking protester "on cusp" of prison sentence

A Fylde anti fracking protester was warned by a judge that he is on the cusp of serving a custodial sentence.

Thirty two year old John Knox is one of the most prolific offenders during protests at the Cuadrilla  gas exploration site on Preston New Road, Little Plumpton over the last two years.

Knox lived on a nearby camp site at the time but that site has now been the subject of eviction proceedings District Judge Jane Goodwin was told at Blackpool Magistrates Court.

She  had found Knox guilty of two offences which took place in September last year after a trial.

Knox  now of no fixed address,was convicted of  wilfully obstructing the the A583 outside  the site.

He was also convicted of an offence under Trade Union legislation of halting a person going about their normal work.

Neil White,prosecuting said that an articulated lorry was leaving the site with a cargo of waste water which was due to go the Mulberry Waste headquarters in Leyland.

As driver Paul Evans- a director of Mulberry- left the site three protesters stood in his way in front of his cab.

They moved down the side of his vehicle as he pulled to a halt blocking the Kirkham bound lane of the road.He then saw Know climbing a ladder onto the tank of water he was pulling behind him.

The court heard that Mr Evans locked his cab   and left his vehicle.Knox stayed on top of the vehicle for about thirteen hours during which police had to control traffic using temporary traffic lights.

Mr Evans told the court:” I saw the man scuttle up the ladder  an onto the top of the tank.I was told not to move the vehicle by police who arrived minutes later.”

He denied suggestions by defence lawyer Nikki Hall that he had driven dangerously  onto  the site at 40 mph narrowly missing Knox.

He also denied having bald tyres on his vehicle.

“It would have been impossible to have driven onto the site at that speed the wagon would have overturned,” said Mr Evans.

The defence lawyer suggested that protesters were worried that the waste water may have contained environmentally unfriendly material which could have been radio active.

However the judge told her there was no evidence to justify this claim.

Sentencing Knox – who came down from the vehicle because he was cold- the judge told him:”I have seen your previous convictions and I am warning you if you do this again you face custody.”

“You are on that cusp.”

“What you did was was deliberate and wilful disruption.You had no lawful right to get on the tanker.”

Knox was fined £210 and ordered to pay £430 costs.

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