Police had to cut Adani activist Benjamin Roy Winch free after he locked himself to a cattle grid preventing access to the rail corridor project near Mount Coolon.
Police had to cut Adani activist Benjamin Roy Winch free after he locked himself to a cattle grid preventing access to the rail corridor project near Mount Coolon.

Adani activist slammed for wasting police time and resources

AN UNEMPLOYED freelance writer and Adani activist has been slammed for wasting police time and resources in protest activity a magistrate said came to nothing apart from landing the man in court.

Magistrate James Morton said the 47 year old, from New South Wales, had been used "as a pawn" when he chained himself to a cattle grid on Stratford Rd, near Mount Coolon, in a bid to stop work on the mega mine's rail corridor.

Benjamin Roy Winch claimed, "I'm just doing my small part" to which Mr Morton said, "your small part's unlawful".

Police arrived at the site about 8am on October 8 this year where Winch, seated on a chair, had locked himself to a cattle grid preventing contractors from accessing and working on the rail corridor.

Adani activist Benjamin Roy Winch pleaded guilty to pedestrian causing an obstruction and contravening a police move on direction after chaining himself to a cattle grid preventing access to the rail corridor near Mount Coolon.
Adani activist Benjamin Roy Winch pleaded guilty to pedestrian causing an obstruction and contravening a police move on direction after chaining himself to a cattle grid preventing access to the rail corridor near Mount Coolon.

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Bowen Magistrates Court heard about 15 vehicles were lined up unable to continue because Winch, who was with a group of protesters, was blocking the roadway.

Prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors said as a result of his refusal to move specialist police were called and had to cut Winch free.

Sgt Myors highlighted the "inconvenience that these sorts of actions place, not only on the police and the workers themselves but the entire community" and the risk it also placed on both Winch and the police called to free him.

The court heard Winch's actions were "politically motivated" and it was the first time he had engaged in this type of conduct.

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The court heard his parents' home burned down in the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983, which "had a significant impact on him" and his concerns about the impact of climate change and "contributed to the motivation behind his behaviour".

Winch pleaded guilty to pedestrian causing an obstruction and contravening a police move on direction.

He was a published writer with works including literary and music reviews and social and political commentary. He currently lived with a group in the Byron Bay hinterland.

Mr Morton told Winch his actions did not "do anything".

"It's only a momentary incident because you haven't done (anything) you understand," Mr Morton said.

Adani activist Benjamin Roy Winch (front) pleaded guilty to pedestrian causing an obstruction and contravening a police move on direction after chaining himself to a cattle grid preventing access to the rail corridor project near Mount Coolon.
Adani activist Benjamin Roy Winch (front) pleaded guilty to pedestrian causing an obstruction and contravening a police move on direction after chaining himself to a cattle grid preventing access to the rail corridor project near Mount Coolon.

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"You haven't stopped the ships coming in and taking the coal, you haven't stopped the coal being dug out of the ground at Collinsville or the other coal mines.

"It still continues."

Winch replied with, "I'm not a superhero your honour."

"You're definitely not that," Mr Morton said.

"You've been coached into this by other people who've used you as a pawn."

Mr Morton said because Winch was a first-time offender with no criminal history he would receive a "slap on the wrist".

He was fined $350 and a conviction was not recorded.