BATHURST woman Stephanie Luke has escaped a jail sentence for her part in an anti-mine protest near Mudgee last year.
Ms Luke faced a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment under the interfering with a mine laws introduced by the NSW Government in 2016.
She, along with fellow protesters Bev Smiles and Bruce Hughes, were charged after blocking the entrance to Peabody Energy’s Wilpinjong mine site north-east of Mudgee in April 2017.
They appeared in Mudgee Local Court on Tuesday.
The three protesters each received a 12-month good behaviour bond – with no criminal conviction recorded – for the traffic charge of obstructing drivers’ path.
But it was the charges of interfering with a mine – specifically destroying or damaging equipment or a road belonging to a mine and hindering the working of mining equipment - that were significant as they were the first people charged with the laws introduced in NSW months prior to their arrest.
In his judgement, Magistrate David Day found that “there’s no evidence that the road was rendered useless; it was obstructed and easily cleared”.
And he said the phrasing of “belonging to” needed to establish “ownership” of the road and equipment, which he didn’t believe was done.
The three protesters had earlier entered pleas of guilty to the traffic charge. Due to their respective ages and lack of criminal history, no convictions were recorded.
Their representative Phillip Boulten SC told the court “if an infringement was issued on the spot, we wouldn’t be here”.
Bathurst Community Climate Action Network had pledged its support for Ms Luke as she faced the charges.