Anti-fracker nicknamed “Squirrel” bit cop’s hand at protest in Bassetlaw

Court latest
Court latest

An anti-fracking protester nicknamed “Squirrel” bit a police officer on the hand while trying to thwart the delivery of drilling equipment to a site in Bassetlaw, a court has heard.

Red-haired Ross Monahagn planned to block the entrance to the IGas site, on Tinker Lane, near Blyth, by locking himself to a fellow protestor, but police foiled this and he was left alone, at 6am on May 14.

Although small vehicles were able to pass, HGVs had to be diverted, and a special removal team tried to lift him off on a stretcher before the arrival of the drilling rig, at 9.10am.

Prosecutor Mark Fielding said: “He was wriggling and kicking out and officers had to grab his legs. They were trying to stop him struggling.”

He bit one constable through his nylon safety glove, leaving a red mark.

“Officers were trying to look after his safety,” he added. “He would only go by the name of “Squirrel”.”

Helen White, mitigating, said Monahagn only realised he had bit the officer after he was shown CCTV of the event, and changed his plea to guilty before a trial, at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Thursday.

He would have pleaded guilty earlier, but the CCTV evidence was served late, she told the court.

“It was a very charged and fast-moving situation,” she said, adding, that the drill equipment was only allowed to enter Nottinghamshire after 9.30am because it was deemed an “abnormal load”.

She said that Monahagn, 35, of no fixed abode, lives on the protest site without income, and survives on the generosity of the local community.

Probation officer Lucy Harrison said: “He was disappointed in himself. As he says himself, he is a peaceful protestor.

“He would like to apologise to the officers. He fully accepts the police have a difficult job.”

She said that he is “very passionate about peaceful protest” and works with young people in the area.

“He does appreciate there is some irony in that,” she added.

District judge Andrew Meachin gave Monahagn a 12 month community order for assaulting the officer, with 80 days of unpaid work.

He must pay £300 costs towards the trial, £50 compensation to the officer, and an £85 government surcharge.

Although he doesn’t claim benefits, he will be expected to pay it at the rate of £10 a week, as though he were claiming.