Seven climate change activists, found guilty of causing more than £100,000 of damage by smashing windows at the headquarters of Barclays Bank, were spared jail by a judge.

Zoe Cohen, 52, Carol Wood, 53, Sophie Cowen, 31, Lucy Porter, 48, Gabriella Ditton, 28, Rosemary Webster, 64, and another protester, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were charged with criminal damage and pleaded not guilty. They were convicted and given suspended sentences on 27 January.

The women had used chisels and hammers to break glass panels on the exterior of the building in Canary Wharf, London, on 7 April 2021, Southwark crown court heard. They wore patches that read “better broken windows than broken promises” as they placed stickers stating “in case of climate emergency break glass” on the bank’s windows.

Diana Wilson, prosecuting, said: “We have spoken to Barclays and they do seek compensation.”

Owen Greenhall, representing Wood and the unnamed protester, said: “The trial process is something that has had a significant impact on both my clients and is not something they would want to go through again. There is no evidence of any serious distress caused in this case.”

All the other protesters represented themselves.

Rosemary Webster said: “I don’t feel that I am a criminal. I want to protect future generations. I do not call myself a protester, I call myself a climate defender.”

When giving evidence during the trial, Zoe Cohen said she came from a Jewish family that had escaped fascism, which partly inspired her climate activism.

She told the court: “I am of Jewish origin. Today [Friday] is Holocaust Memorial Day. I can imagine what it must be like to be a teenager today and know what awaits.”

Ditton, Porter, Webster and the defendant who cannot be named were each given an eight-month suspended sentence. Wood and Cohen were each given a seven-month suspended sentence, and Cowan a six-month suspended sentence.

All the sentences will be suspended for two years. Each defendant will have to pay £500 in prosecution costs, but no compensation costs were imposed
See Cohen’s climate opinion