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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
'Spiderman' cleared over protest
David Chick on the crane
David Chick dressed as Spiderman for the protest
A man who spent six days up a 150ft crane causing widespread traffic chaos in central London has been cleared of causing a public nuisance.

David Chick, 37, dressed up as Spiderman for a protest over fathers' rights near Tower Bridge last November.

Mr Chick, from Burgess Hill, West Sussex, said he demonstrated at not being allowed to see his daughter.

He told Southwark Crown Court the police played a "psychological game" to make him look like a "reckless idiot".

Officers said he could fall on pedestrians or cars and caused work to stop on a 45m office block while surrounding streets were sealed off.

Large parts of the City and east London were gridlocked with frequent 10-mile traffic jams.

But the jury heard excerpts from police logs making it clear senior officers not only treated the road closures as a "bargaining tool" to get him to come down, but felt the prosecution case could be "weakened" if they were lifted.

'Common-sense verdict

As the not guilty verdict was announced, the father-of-one grinned broadly while some 20 supporters - mostly men wearing Fathers4Justice t-shirts - cheered and applauded.

Outside court, Mr Chick pulled on a Spiderman mask and indulged in several changes of top.

One t-shirt read: "Police spin version exposed", while another declared: "Family law fails children and dads."

Asked for his reaction he said: "Common-sense verdict."

When someone asked whether he intended to stage another protest he replied: "Watch this space."

The nine day trial heard that Mr Chick had become frustrated at the legal system as he tried to enforce a court order allowing him to visit his daughter for two hours every week.

He said his former partner was "less than willing" to allow him access and eventually refused altogether.

On 31 July, 2003, he climbed the crane under the cover of darkness to begin his fourth crane-top protest.

Once at the top, he donned a Spiderman outfit borrowing the idea from a couple of other fathers who climbed on the Royal Courts of Justice dressed as Batman and Robin.

David Chick
David Chick protested over not being able to see his daughter

Mr Chick said Spiderman was his daughter's favourite super hero.

Prosecutor Anthony Wilkin alleged the defendant was a "maverick" who presented an "unacceptable risk, a danger to the public, an unknown threat" that could not be ignored.

But a handwritten police log prepared on the second day of the protest and read out to the jury, said Tower Bridge "could be reopened if required" but pointed out its continued closure "could help in negotiations".

Then on day five an officer wrote of the defendant: "Not in any crisis, not swearing, angry nor mentally ill, and did not want to hurt anyone."

He added there was a "possibility of weakening of the prosecution case by opening the roads".




SEE ALSO:
Crane protester 'aware of chaos'
05 May 04  |  London
'Spiderman' warned about climbing
16 Jan 04  |  Southern Counties


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