Sheffield man celebrates release from prison after winning appeal

A Sheffield man is celebrating his release from prison after winning an appeal against his sentence.

Simon Roscoe Blevins, aged 26, of Andover Street, Burngreave, was one of three men jailed over an anti-fracking protest they staged in Lancashire last year.

Simon Roscoe Blevins, centre, with fellow anti-fracking campaigners who were released from prison yesterday (Pic: PA)

Simon Roscoe Blevins, centre, with fellow anti-fracking campaigners who were released from prison yesterday (Pic: PA)

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The men, who were all convicted of causing a public nuisance, were the first environmental protesters to be imprisoned since 1932.

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Soil scientist Blevins was jailed for 16 months alongside teacher Richard Roberts, 36, of London.

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Piano restorer Richard Loizou, 32, from Devon, was sentenced to 15 months.

But Appeal Court judges freed the trio yesterday after six weeks behind bars, describing their sentences as ‘manifestly excessive’.

The men spent nearly 100 hours on top of a convoy of lorries to prevent supplies being delivered to energy firm Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Little Plumpton, Lancashire, last July.

The trio were met by dozens of supporters as they left HMP Preston yesterday afternoon following their successful appeal.

Outside prison, Loizou said: "Today's decision affirmed that when people peacefully break the law out of a moral obligation to prevent the expansion of fossil fuel industries they should not be sent to prison.

"The fracking industry threatens to industrialise our beautiful countryside.

"It will force famine, flooding and many other disasters on the world's most vulnerable communities by exacerbating climate change.

"Fracking is beginning right now so there has never been a more critical time to take action.

"The planet needs you."

He urged people to join the trio at a mass demonstration outside the Little Plumpton fracking site on Saturday.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, for the protesters, said the men's legal teams will now consider whether to challenge their convictions on the basis of the ‘apparent bias’ of the judge, Robert Altham, who jailed them.

She told appeal court judges that Judge Altham's sister had written a letter in support of fracking in 2015.

His parents and sister, Jane Watson, who is married to South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable. Stephen Watson, are directors of a firm which supplies the offshore gas and oil industries.

A spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has confirmed it has received a complaint about Judge Altham, which it will consider.