The West

Serial protester avoids jail
Serial protester avoids jail

A serial protester who last week narrowly avoided jail or a fine after pleading guilty to trespassing has vowed to ramp up his campaign activities.

Forest Rescue activist Simon Peterffy was handed a six-month communitybased order with 40 hours community service in Manjimup Magistrates Court on Thursday after he admitted to entering a farm in a bid to sabotage logging machinery in Kirup.

‘‘Mr Peterffy is a person who is doing what he believes is best for the community as he sees fit and I’m going to give him the opportunity to do more for the community on a six-month community-based order,’’ magistrate Elizabeth Hamilton said.

Mr Peterffy has a long history of charges over protests and hit international headlines in January when he and two others illegally boarded a Japanese ship in protest over whaling.

He is also on a suspended sentence for a trespass offence last year when he dumped rancid butter on the desk of Forest Products Commission general manager David Hartley.

Appearing relieved after his court appearance, Mr Peterffy was nonetheless steadfast in his resolve to step up antilogging protests this coming summer.

‘‘It’s not going to change anything; it’s business as usual,’’ he said.

‘‘If they (the loggers) go into Warrup they can expect another campaign, but this time we will be more prepared and in the lead up to the election we will get more exposure.’’

A Forest Products spokesman said protesters had only minimal impact on logging operations during the past few months.

‘‘Our staff and contractors have acted professionally and lawfully in response to extreme provocation by these protest groups,’’ the spokesman said.

Protest action in Warrup was reckless and dangerous, he added, as protesters were jeopardising their own safety as well as the wellbeing of staff and contractors.

Forest Industries Federation executive director Bob Pearce said he was disappointed at the outcome of the case, which would do little to deter illegal protests.

Mr Pearce described Mr Peterffy as a nuisance to the timber industry.

‘‘The court should pay attention to the fact he is a serial offender and is showing contempt for the courts and legal process,’’ he said.

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