Trio accused of ‘violent’ pro-Gaza protest granted bail
Rex Martinich |
Three pro-Gaza protesters accused of taking part in violent invasions of defence contractors’ offices and warehouses have been granted bail.
Queensland Police’s Counter-Terrorism Investigation Group carried out search warrants on Tuesday and charged three people.
Greg William Rolles, 42, of Greenslopes, Margaret Pestorius, 59, of Bardon and Sharai Elizabeth Lancaster, 25, of Toowong, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Police alleged a large group of protesters on the morning of January 8 forced entry to the workshop and warehouse of aerospace manufacturer Ferra Engineering in the eastern Brisbane suburb of Tingalpa.
Police linked the protesters to the Wage Peace Disrupt War group, which claims Ferra’s products were enabling Israeli F35 fighter jets to drop bombs on Gaza.
Police also alleged that on January 17 a group of protesters forced entry into the foyer of Boeing Defence Australia in Brisbane’s CBD, causing damage and assaulting a staff member.
Rolles was charged with two counts of unlawful assembly, once each at Ferra and at Boeing.
Police prosecutor Josh Kelly told the court he opposed bail as Rolles was also charged with refusing to provide access to a digital device and if convicted he could face a prison sentence.
Magistrate Julian Noud granted Rolles bail after his lawyer agreed to conditions that prohibited him attending the locations of two defence contractors.
Rolles, appearing in court dressed in a green detainee uniform, waved to two supporters in the public gallery.
Pestorius was charged with entering a premises with intent and common assault at Boeing’s office and refusing to provide access to a digital device.
Lancaster was charged with entering premises with intent, common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm and wilful damage, all allegedly committed on January 8 at Ferra.
Both women were also granted bail with the same conditions as Rolles by Magistrate Megan Power in a separate courtroom.
Pestorius represented herself in court and said police had weak evidence that she had been at Ferra.
“It’s such weak evidence they had to send anti-terror police to my house at 6am to get photos of a black shirt and black pants,” Pestorius said.
She said she was a social worker who was personally opposed to any use of violence.
Another prosecutor told the same court on Wednesday that the protesters assaulted staff at the Ferra premises as well as caused damage, spilling red paint, destroying documents and making graffiti.
Police alleged a Ferra staff member was hit in the ribs by a gate and another was pushed over and cut his hand as they tried to stop protesters entering an area containing dangerous machinery.
“It was a violent protest,” the prosecutor told the court.
Lancaster said she had no history of violence and always turned up to court but opposed any conditions on her bail.
“The conditions infringe on my right to protest,” Lancaster said.
Rolles was due to return to court on February 21.
Pestorius and Lancaster are due to return on February 7 and 8, respectively.AAP