Emily Starr and Matilda Heselev faced Bowen Magistrates Court after locking themselves onto a railway line at Abbot Point, Bowen. Facebook
Emily Starr and Matilda Heselev faced Bowen Magistrates Court after locking themselves onto a railway line at Abbot Point, Bowen. Facebook Facebook

Anti-Adani protesters escape major penalties

TWO Victorian anti-Adani protesters who locked themselves on to the railway line at Bowen have escaped serious punishment in court.

Emily Tifa Starr and Matilda Heselev each received 12-month good behaviour bonds for locking themselves on to a 44-gallon drum full of concrete on the Abbot Point railway line on Abbot Point Rd at Bowen on July 22.

The pair each separately pleaded guilty in Bowen Magistrates Court on Tuesday to trespassing on a railway, obstructing a railway and contravening a direction of police.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors told the court police were called to the site at 6.10am, arriving to find the pair with their arms inside a concrete pipe and locked on to the drum.

Police continually requested the pair self-release from the drum, but they refused.

The court was told police had to use power tools to break open the barrel to release the pair before they were arrested.

While working on them, police discovered the concrete had tools, loose steel, scrap metal and glass mixed in with it, making their task even more difficult and fraught with problems, Sgt Myors said.

"The officers were put at significant risk to remove the defendants," she said.

When police arrived at the scene, they also found workers lined up at either side of the rail crossing on their way to and from their shifts.

"It (the protest) was timed to coincide with shift changeover, preventing night workers from returning home and day shift starting," Sgt Myors said.

With the pair not arrested until 10.30am and the railway line blocked for a total of six hours, Sgt Myors also requested restitution of a combined $3515 for Aurizon to pay for the hours its workers to clear the line and have it operational again.

She also asked the pair each be fined between $2500 and $3000.

Starr and Heselev's solicitor Emily Lewsey argued that a fine of around $2000 would be appropriate for her clients, but said they should not have to pay the restitution as it did not meet specific requirements.

Magistrate James Morton sentenced the two to 12-month good behaviour bonds with a $1000 recognisance if they break them.

He also ordered restitution did not have to be paid.

In sentencing Starr, who hails from the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris, and Heselev from the Melbourne suburb of Elwood, Mr Morton noted that it seemed to be people who weren't from Bowen who were brought before the court for anti-Adani protests.

"It's always the case that people from outside Bowen come up here to air their views," Mr Morton said.

"You will notice that no-one from Bowen gets involved because they support the coal."

In sentencing 22-year-old Starr, Mr Morton told her he accepted she was passionate about the environment, but that this kind of protesting was wrong.

"You took part in what you thought was the right thing to do at the time," Mr Morton said.

"This is your personal view and that is acceptable, but the way you went about it was not.

"All you would have done was backed up the trains... you wouldn't have stopped them digging the coal.

"This is not going to do anything."

In sentencing Heselov, 20, Mr Morton had similar things to say.

"You travelled up here in the belief you are doing something good. But it didn't do any good," Mr Morton said.

"You can't stop progress.

"When you go back to where you live, worry about what's happening in your own backyard.

"The people of Bowen support this."

Mr Morton did not record convictions for Starr or Heselov.

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