Environmental Activists Jailed For Major Traffic Disruption In West Gate Bridge Protest

Two members of the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion have been sentenced to 21 days in prison for causing significant traffic disruptions in Melbourne. 

Deanna “Violet” Coco, 33, and Bradley Homewood, 51, pleaded guilty to charges of public nuisance and intentionally obstructing police after blocking the West Gate Bridge with a rental truck on Tuesday.

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On Tuesday this week, the activists halted traffic on one of Melbourne’s busiest routes, climbing on top of the truck and igniting a flare. 

The protest led to peak-hour delays and drew the attention of authorities who engaged with the protesters on top of the vehicle.

Magistrate Andrew McKenna, presiding over an evening court session, criticised the activists, describing their actions as a “blind pursuit of a cause, irrespective of the consequences for others”.

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He deemed the 21-day prison sentence as “mild, modest, and almost inadequate” given the disruption caused.

“It was quite unacceptable in every sense,” he added.

While acknowledging the activists’ intention to raise awareness of climate issues, Magistrate McKenna argued that the stunt would likely elicit an “opposite reaction among most of the community”.

He said a prison term was the only suitable punishment, considering the pair’s prior history of public nuisance.

Deanna Coco, who previously faced legal consequences for blocking the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2023, expressed her “sincere apologies” for inconveniencing others but justified their actions as necessary.

Joseph Zammit, the third protester involved, was released on bail, adjourning his case to April 16. 

While initially expressing a guilty plea, he later disagreed with the allegations presented by prosecutors.

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