Brexit protester pleads guilty after rooftop demonstration cancels Eurostar and St Pancras trains
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
A flag-waving Brexit protester has admitted halting Eurostar trains out of St Pancras by climbing on to a tunnel roof on the day Britain was supposed to leave the European Union.
Terry Maher, from Cubitt Street, carried a St George’s flag and ventured on to a roof over the tracks on Friday night, then spent some 12 hours in a stand-off with police.
After he was arrested, he told officers he was angry at politicians for “f****** up Brexit”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday.
The demonstration was staged on the day Britain was originally due to leave the EU.
The 44-year-old caused the cancellation of eight Eurostar services and major delays for thousands of passengers, the court heard.
Southeastern Trains was also forced to cancel 16 services on the high-speed rail line, part-cancel 44 others and a further 28 were delayed.
Maher got on to the roof shortly after 7pm and was not brought down until 8am the following morning, the court heard.
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Prosecuting, Robert Simpson said: “The defendant managed to gain access to the roof of the building and he told the police at the time he had a Stanley knife.
“There was a total of 1,757 minutes of lost time as a result of it and the estimation is that there will be in excess of £40,000 in delay fines.”
The disruption caused delays for between 7,000 and 8,000 passengers, he added.
“He was arrested and made various comments about how the security was very poor,” Mr Simpson said.
Maher, who the court heard receives benefits, told police he had “thought he was going to need bolt-cutters” to get on to the building.
Mr Simpson added: “He went on to say he disliked politicians, saying they were ‘f****** up Brexit’, (and) made various other comments about illegal immigrants in the country.”
He also complained about foreign aid money spent in India, the court heard.
Maher, who was remanded in custody, admitted a charge of causing a public nuisance and will appear at Blackfriars Crown Court on April 29 over a second count under the Malicious Damage Act.
District Judge Richard Blake said the protest was “very serious indeed” and warned others against similar action.
“I hope a wider audience at large reflects on the gravity of these offences before they might be encouraged to follow your behaviour,” he said.
He told Maher: “People must understand that even when issues of great national concern are about in the public domain, and we live in a free society where they can express their views, that if they resort to manners of protest which cause widespread public disruption, which you did, I should think untold members of the public had their weekends spoiled.
“It cost many thousands of pounds.”
Short-haired Maher appeared in the dock wearing a custody outfit and sat with his face covered by his hands for much of the hearing.
He spoke to confirm his name and address and gave his nationality as English.
Reporting by Press Association.