Ploughshares prosecution – what do we do?

Hey groovers,

On 21 July 2011, with support from Graeme Dunstan of, I struck an ADF Tiger helicopter with a mattock – putting the narrow blade through a carbon fibre panel, and putting the helicopter out of commission.

Captured from TV - Bryan Law sinks a mattock blade into the carbon fibre panelling of an ADF Tiger helicopter. July 21 2011 at Rockhampton airport.

As a result, Graeme and I have been charged with a number of indictable offences.  If convicted I face a near-certain term of imprisonment, while Graeme may be able to qualify for a probation or suspended sentence (then again he may not.

Over the next month or three, Graeme and I have to think about what our legal stance ought be.  It seems to be a choice between:

Running a defence based on necessity, similar to the Pine Gap defence (but hopefully better staffed by legal advisors and advocates).; or

Pleading guilty, but opening up the issues around the cost of repair.

Too late! Soldiers and guards run to stop the ploughshares mattock from striking again.

I’d appreciate it if you could look at the following two links, and give us the benefit of your thinking and feeling about the best course forward.

The first link is to a 2008 article by Alice Springs Legal Aid Lawyer Russell Goldflam about the trial and appeal of the Pine Gap Four.

The second link is to a piece I wrote in 2010 about lessons to be learned from the Pine Gap Four, and from the trial of the Waihopai ploughshares, where Adi Leason, Peter Murnane and Sam Land failed in the necessity defence but were acquitted of all charges due to claim of right.

One conclusion I draw in the 2010 article is “By choosing targets such as airplanes, ships, tanks etc (less secret, more direct weapons systems/components), and by majorly disabling said piece of equipment, it may yet be possible to get a necessity defence in front of an Australian or New Zealand jury.”

I’d appreciate any feedback you have to offer.

Also we’re considering a name for our ploughshares group/action.  Any suggestions?

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