Anti-cuts demonstrator spared jail after being caught with smoke bombs and bangersMatthew Bates, 25, from Bristol, caught with fireworks during disturbances
Admitted possessing explosive substance but 'did not intend to cause alarm'Hundreds were arrested after extremists clashed with police following rally
21:02 GMT, 21 December 2012
Matthew Bates, 25, was spared jail today after admitting being caught with bags full of smoke bombs and fireworks during an anti-cuts demonstration last year
An anti-cuts demonstrator caught with two bags full of 'smoke bombs and bangers' at a rally that ended with running battles between police and protestors was spared jail today.
Matthew Bates, 25, was found with the fireworks during a TUC march against government austerity measures on March 26 last year.
The demonstration sparked a mass sit-in at department store Fortnum and Mason and attacks on the Ritz Hotel and resulted in scores of arrests.
Officers discovered the items when
Bates was spotted near to a 15ft high model of a horse that had been set
alight by protestors near to Oxford Circus, in central London, at
Bates Judge David Higgins said: 'You have pleaded guilty to a serious
offense, that of having an explosive substance which, as I understand
it, comprised smoke bombs and bangers.
'You had them in your possession during a public demonstration on March 26, 2011, against government spending cuts.
'If of course such implements or
explosives were used in a crowd it could result in great distress and a
danger of injury or even death of the crowd were to stampede, which
would simply then be a matter of chance, and such behaviour is
deplorable and deeply anti-social.
come to the conclusion that the proper and least sentence which I may
impose is a community order comprising on an unpaid work requirement of
180 hours to be completed within 12 months.'
The court heard Bates was stopped by police after he was seen collecting wood and discarded placards near to the burning effigy.
Matthew Bates was arrested during last year's anti-cuts demonstrations in London which sparked a mass sit-in a department store Fortnum and Mason
When he was asked what he was doing he told an officer it was 'none of his business', said the prosecutor.
Bates was subsequently taken to one side and searched.
court heard he was carrying two bags containing two 'pyrotechnic units
or fireworks', one capable of emitting a loud bang and a second which
emitted coloured smoke.
200 people were arrested after hardcore anarchists clashed with police following the anti-cuts protest in March last year
Demonstrators attacked the Ritz hotel during the disturbances in central London
Officers also found a packet of French 'firework sticks'.
In a basis of plea submitted to the court Bates admitted possession of the items but said he 'did not intend to cause the alarm or harm which could have been the consequence'.
Bates, of Howecroft Gardens, Bristol, admitted possessing an explosive substance at Southwark Crown Court.