Xenophon Davis represented 17 climate protestors in district court appeals of their severe sentences. 16 of the 17 sentences were overturned and all of those 16 resulted in no convictions recorded.
After an intense wave of harsh sentences were handed down to Newcastle climate protestors late last year in the Local Court, Xenophon Davis lodged 17 district court appeals. Most of the sentences appealed were Community Corrections Orders, described by lawyer Mark Davis as “very severe penalties for what appeared to be fairly run of the mill protestor activity”.
Two protestors were charged with “cause obstruction to railway locomotive or rolling stock and endanger safety of person on railway” a very serious charge that carries a 25 year prison sentence.
“These people were thrust through the courts and came out the other end, all of them with severe penalties one of them with a jail sentence.” – Mark Davis
Eric Serge Herbert was sentenced with a Community Corrections for obstructing a railway, then weeks later was sentenced to a year in prison for breaching that order as he was caught walking in a national park. Xenophon Davis successfully appealed his sentence.
One of the more extreme cases fought and won by Xenophon Davis involved a woman who didn’t even attend the protests. This woman had her car seized by the police under the Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime Act, as police alleged she used the car to drive her boyfriend to protests. It was “deeply concerning” to see law you’d expect to be utilised to seize the “helicopters of drug lords” deployed in this manner says Davis. Police held the car for 3 months and intended to destroy it until Xenophon Davis launched a successful legal action to have the order overturned.
“These proceeds of crime laws are being abused by police, in every state and territory of Australia, and federally,” Civil Liberties Australia president Bill Rowlings said in relation to this same matter.
Xenophon Davis are buoyed by the results of these appeals as the precedent they set matters. “Had these sentences stuck, there would serious implications throughout NSW as to how protests are dealt with in the local courts. These people were over-charged and over-sentenced and we’re very happy the district court has corrected that record to significant degree.”
Many thanks to the lawyers working with Xenophon Davis on these matters, Natalija Nikolic, Drew Hamilton, Mark Davis, Emmanuel Kerkyasharian and Neal Funnell.