Adani protester slapped with $10,000 fine
AN ADANI protester who locked herself onto a railway line at Bowen has been slapped with a $10,000 fine and ordered to pay costs which included having four police officers recalled to duty to cut her free.
Freya Rowe Nolin, 21, of Perth, pleaded guilty in Bowen Magistrates Court last week to trespassing on a railway, obstructing railways and contravening a direction or requirement of police.
Prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors told the court police were called to the Aurizon-used railway line at 8.30pm on March 3 where they found Nolin who had locked her arms into a steel lock-on device that she had attached to the railway track.
The court was told that inside each of the steel arm pieces was a glass "sleeve" which meant police officers had to be specially trained to remove these devices without injuring the protester.
Four police had to be recalled to duty that night to remove Nolin from the railway line and Sgt Myors requested just over $1330 to pay for their overtime
Sgt Myors said Nolin refused to release herself from the lock-on device when asked to by police.
She also said no trains were able to use the railway line for three hours between 8.30pm and 11.30pm that night.
Sgt Myors told the Bowen Magistrates Court that protests such as this were having an impact on the local community as it was continually being left without a police presence when these protests occurred.
"The policing response is huge," Sgt Myors said.
"Everyone has to go."
Sgt Myors said local police also had to buy special equipment and train how to use it to deal with protests such as this one.
"You can walk into any other police station across the state and not find this equipment," she said.
"They (Bowen police) have to purchase this equipment and train officers.
"We would be seeking a deterrent penalty."
As well as the money to cover the police officers' pays, Sgt Myors also asked for $233.79 in restitution to replace equipment, including blades and gloves which were used to cut Nolin free from the rail line.
Duty lawyer Cleo Rewald said Nolin was a student studying conservation at TAFE and previous jobs had included being an environmental technician.
"She is concerned about the environment and the future," she said.
Mrs Rewald told the court her client did not argue against having to pay the police officer's overtime and purchase of new blades.
However, she did argue against the need to pay for six pairs of gloves at a cost of almost $19 each.
Mrs Rewald also said it was unfair to blame Nolin for the loss of police resources in the town.
"To pinpoint and highlight the loss of policing because of this action, or other criminal actions, or even a car accident, is unfair," she said.
She also argued that the Bowen police station was not left unmanned in this instance if the officers with the specialist skills had to be recalled to duty that night.
Mrs Rewald told the court Nolin did not have a criminal record and asked for no conviction to be recorded by the court.
"This is her first brush with the law," Mrs Rewald said.
In handing down his sentence, magistrate Ron Muirhead said he took into account Nolin's young age and the fact she was on Youth Allowance.
However, he blasted her for halting activities on the railway line with her actions.
"You're quite entitled to take part in a protest if it is done in a reasonable manner. You did not," Mr Muirhead said.
"Any penalty must act as a deterrent to yourself and others in the community.
"If courts carry a high penalty ... people may think twice before behaving this way."
Mr Muirhead fined Nolin $10,000 and ordered her to pay $1565.37 in restitution both for the police officers' overtime and items they needed to buy including all the gloves.
"It's a high penalty, but on the other hand a term of imprisonment could have been implemented," he said.
No conviction against Nolin was recorded by the court.