Perth, WA: Climate activist avoids jail time

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Disrupt Burrup Hub media consultant Jesse Noakes has avoided a jail sentence for defying a police order to give them access to seized devices following an alleged incident outside the Woodside CEO’s home.

Noakes, 34, appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday where he argued he could not give Western Australia Police detectives access to two mobile phones and two iPads because of sensitive and confidential information stored on them.

Mr Noakes said some of the information relates to Aboriginal title and heritage.

He also said he should be given the same protection as journalists, as he has published media articles and is a member of the media union MEAA.

The first phone and tablet were seized following an incident where a stink bomb was used to disrupt the Woodside AGM in April.

The second set was seized after Mr Noakes was arrested on August 1 following an alleged failed protest outside Woodside boss Meg O’Neill’s home in Perth.

The Disrupt Burrup strongly opposes Woodside’s Burrup Hub gas project being developed on the Burrup Peninsula, in the Pilbara region of Washington, due to both its environmental impact and damage to the nearby Murujuga Petroglyphs, which the oldest indigenous pictographs in the world.

When Noakes’ lawyer appeared before magistrate Gavin Maclean on Tuesday, Zarah Burgess argued her client was a highly respected member of the community.

She presented character references of Dr. Fiona Stanley, 2003 Australian of the Year, and homelessness advocate, Dr. Betsy Buchanan.

Mr McLean found Mr Noakes guilty of four charges of refusing to comply with digital access orders, but noted the offense was “about a million miles away” from those usually charged with the same crime, such as drug dealers .

He also said Mr Noakes was “very well regarded by people who know (him) well.”

Although the charge carries a prison sentence, Mr Noakes was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, plus $137 in court costs.

The decision was greeted with cheers by Disrupt Burrup supporters in the public gallery.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Noakes and three other Disrupt Burrup members appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offense following the August demonstration outside Ms O’Neill’s home.

These matters were postponed to later dates for all parties involved.

Read related topics:Perth

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