After one day of not-so-effective protesting, and two months of slanderous criticism against protestors who took it too far; the student guilty of throwing a fire extinguisher from London’s Millbank Tower on November 10 has been sentenced. But is this really a justified cause for celebration?
Edward Woollard, an 18 year old A-level student at Brockenhurst College, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Though undoubtedly of the same age that the youngest of university students are; it must be argued that this youth was in fact still a school pupil. Younger teenagers, yet to adapt to the independent mode of living and even thinking, are much more vulnerable to the pressures that challenge them. Already fuelled with anger and passion and finding himself surrounded by a crowd of encouraging protesters; can this really be referred to as a personal crime?
The student has recently been jailed for 32 months at Southwark Crown Court for his participation in the riots in November following evidence proving his guilty role. He was filmed throwing an empty metal fire extinguisher from a seventh-floor rooftop as hundreds of people gathered in a courtyard below.
Thankfully, no one was hurt during the incident as the canister narrowly missed a line of police officers attempting to protect the vandalised building from further destruction.
Though such a critical attack is undoubtedly cause for great punishment; can it really be justified to lock up an 18 year old for two years and eight months as a result of a moment of madness?
The individual was amongst the mere hundreds of protestors who crossed the line during the rally against higher tuition fees, forcing an entry into the Millbank complex in London which houses Conservative Party headquarters. It is unlikely that the offender had any previous motives to cause any harm; just as was the case for the majority of the thousands of students who attended the protest.
Though the blame cannot be evidently shifted and shared, and I am by no means excusing the offence; i ask myself are the public now satisfied? Is the sentence an adequate punishment, or will it infuse even more fury at the original target of the attack – the police?
Though the main offender has been punished, the havoc caused on this day, and the criticism that students all over the UK have endured is far from reach of a just result.