Jury out: Cuts demo student awaits verdict

The jury in the trial of Alfie Meadows, the student injured in the 2010 student riots and charged with violent disorder, has retired to consider its verdict.

In his summing up, Judge Douglas Marks Moore ordered the jury to come to a unanimous verdict, telling them he would not accept a majority verdict at this point.

He instructed them to set aside any personal views on protests or students and stated that their decision was purely a legal one. He added: “Experience has shown that common sense is a wonderful attribute for a jury.”

Witness statements in support of Meadows were summarised, including that of Christian Kerslake, a senior lecturer in the Middlesex philosophy department where Meadows was an undergraduate, who was also present at the protest.

Kerslake’s statement read: “I can confirm he has never behaved violently in my presence… his demeanour is gentle, peaceful…”

It continued, describing Meadows’ mood at the protest: “He was his usual calm and good humoured self… it is hard to imagine a more peaceful young man.”

The jury heard Meadow’s mother and university lecturer Susan Matthews’ description of her son’s injury during the demonstration as: “the hardest blow… It was like a grenade inside his head.”

Meadows is accused of intentional and premeditated violence towards police during the kettling of protesters demonstrating against education cuts and tuition fee rises on 9 December 2010.

He underwent emergency brain surgery after being injured during the demonstration and alleges his injury was due to being hit with a police truncheon.

Meadows is being tried alongside Zac King, also accused of violent disorder during the protest. They were first tried with three other men, who were all found not guilty. During the first trial in March 2012, jurors could not agree a verdict on Meadows and King. A retrial was begun in October 2012 but was aborted due to repeated delays.

The most recent trial began on 12 February 2013. The pair could face a prison sentence of up to five years if found guilty.

At his first trial Meadows stated: “I exercised my right to protest against something I feel strongly about. I ended up in hospital after being struck on the head with a police baton. I am now being prosecuted for violent disorder at that protest. I strongly deny the charge.

“I hope it results in lessons being learnt by the police for the future policing of protests so that no one will ever endure what my family and I have. I am extremely grateful for all of the expressions of concern and support for me by members of the public.”

Meadows’ defence counsel is Carol Hawley of Tooks Chambers. He was previously represented by Michael Mansfield QC who has represented the families of Stephen Lawrence and Jean Charles de Menezes and Mohamed al-Fayed in the inquest into the deaths of his son Dodi al-Fayed and Princess Diana.

Last month, Lawyer2B reported that just 16 per cent of law students it surveyed believe a university education is invaluable and justifies the £9,000 annual cost of tuition fees (18 February 2013).