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Sheffield tree campaigner convicted of obstructing police constable

The hearing was held at Sheffield Magistrates' Court yesterday
The hearing was held at Sheffield Magistrates' Court yesterday

A Sheffield tree campaigner has been convicted of obstructing a constable in their duty, after he refused to provide his name and address when he was arrested.

Robert Pearson, 48, was convicted of the charge at Sheffield Magistrates' Court yesterday, making him the first person to be convicted of a criminal offence in the ongoing tree felling saga.

Magistrates sentenced Pearson to a 12-month conditional discharge, and ordered him to pay costs of £330 for the offence.

During the same hearing, magistrates cleared Pearson, of Valley Road, Meersbrook of a public order offence in which he was accused of using abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or provoke violence.

Both allegations relate to events surrounding a protest attended by members of Sheffield Tree Action Group on Thornsett Road, Nether Edge on February 22 this year.

The protest was held in response to plans from council contractor, Amey, to fell 100 trees on the street that members of the group say are 'healthy'.

Speaking after the hearing, Pearson said he was 'upset' to have been convicted of obstructing an officer because he did not believe he should have been arrested.

He said: "I am jubilant at being found not guilty on the charge of committing a public order offence but I am upset to have been convicted of obstructing an officer because I should not have been arrested in the first place.

"This conviction will not prevent me attending future protests.”

Sheffield Tree Action Groups have set up a crowdfunder page to help Pearson raise the £330 he has been ordered to pay in costs.

Campaigners objecting to the felling work believe thousands of healthy trees are being felled unnecessarily and that there are solutions available to save trees deemed to be damaging roads and pavements.

A number of protests have been staged at tree felling sites across the city, with some requiring police intervention because of stand-offs.