PROTESTERS and the police have given their verdict on the year-long series of court hearings about anti-fracking demonstrations.

Forty-two people were arrested and sent to York Magistrates Court as part of the police operation at the Third Energy proposed fracking site in Kirby Misperton.

Twelve were cleared of all charges against them, including one woman who was accused of assaulting a police officer with a cup of tea and a second woman accused of assaulting police officers by coughing at them.

Twenty-nine were convicted of at least one offence each. Between them they committed seven offences of climbing onto lorries, 30 obstructions of the highway, and five offences of resisting or obstructing police officers.

Some had never been in trouble with the law before. One is wanted on warrant, having failed to attend court.

Simon Blevins, 26, of Sheffield, who received a six-month conditional discharge in February for climbing on a lorry at Kirby Misperton is now serving a 16-month prison sentence for causing a public nuisance when he staged a lorry protest in north-west in connection with the proposed fracking site near Preston. He was jailed on the same day as the York Magistrates Court series of cases ended.

Kirby Misperton group spokesman Leigh Coghill praised district judge Adrian Lower for the way he handled all the cases and the defence lawyers for exposing flaws in the prosecution cases.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “When the balance tipped from peaceful protest to deliberate, unlawful acts that caused unreasonable disruption to others, we had to take appropriate action.”

Between them the 29 convicted defendants must pay £4,045, including £3,010 prosecution costs, £685 statutory surcharges and £350 in fines. Twenty-seven were given conditional discharges and one woman was fined.

One man who had a knife at court is now on a four-week suspended prison sentence after he refused to do unpaid work on a point of principle.

A second man was jailed for seven days for contempt of court because of his behaviour in the dock.

Of the many trials, most ended with convictions, but the trial of three protesters over their overnight occupation of a rig on the Third Energy site ended in complete acquittals, as did two others.