Guilty: unanimous jury verdict for Peace Pilgrim

p2499i Paul Christie 270By KIERAN FINNANE

UPDATED (see below).


Peace Pilgrim Paul Christie has been found guilty of being unlawfully in a prohibited area, the so-called Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap. He was tried under Commonwealth legislation, the 1952 Defence Special Undertakings (DSU) Act.


The jury took little more than half an hour to reach their unanimous verdict.


Mr Christie asked Justice John Reeves to sentence him as soon as possible. He faces a maximum of seven years in gaol, although this punishment is likely reserved for more serious breaches of the law than his peaceful protest.


The court will hear submissions on sentencing from the Crown at 3pm.


Outside the court, Mr Christie said he had expected the guilty verdict – “of course” – and that this was a time to hold onto his integrity, courage and open heart – “that’s what I’m doing”.



UPDATE, 15 November 2017, 6.15pm:


The Crown has argued for a custodial sentence with real time served as the penalty for Paul Christie’s trespass on the “prohibited area” that is the military base at Pine Gap.


The maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment reflects how seriously the legislature views this offending, said Crown Prosecutor Michael McHugh in his sentencing submissions this afternoon.


Importantly a custodial sentence with real time served would  provide “general deterrence”: people thinking about similar actions should know that trespassing on this national security facility carries a harsh penalty; if they breach the law in this way they can be sentenced accordingly.


With respect, Mr Christie said in reply, I was carrying a rattle and some flowers and walking up and down in a river bed.


He said his intent was to carry out his action in the least egregious manner possible, showing respect to all involved: “There was no evidence that I was ever a threat to the protection of society.”


Justice John Reeves seemed inclined to agree with him on this point: his offending must be in the lower range of seriousness, he said,  and that is where his sentencing considerations would normally start. On the face of it, nothing about Mr Christie’s offending would attract a period of imprisonment.


Mr McHugh argued that both specific and general deterrence required a custodial sentence. He cited a legal authority to the effect that general deterrence takes hold only when a custodial sentence is imposed and time served.


Mr Christie’s previous trespass offence on a Commonwealth facility (with no conviction recorded and a modest fine imposed) pointed to the need for specific deterrence.


Justice Reeves asked Mr Christie why he shouldn’t send him to gaol.


The mild-mannered Mr Christie, who admitted to being nervous about the prospect, said such a sentence would be excessive in relation to the nature of his acts and his conduct in the court. However, if a custodial sentence were to be imposed, he asked for it to be suspended.


Justice Reeves reserved his decision. Sentencing will be sometime next week, likely after the conclusion of the trial of the remaining five Peace Pilgrims, which starts tomorrow.




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12 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Fred the Philistine
    Posted November 17, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    @John: We have repaid that debt of Midway many times over with the Vietnam, Korea and the Middle East wars.
    Lost a lot of good men with no benefit to Australia.
    Now that they are in Afghanastan they cannot even win that war against people with pitch forks and Massey Ferguson tractors.

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  2. John Bell
    Posted November 17, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    @ Fred the Philistine: The Yanks did a good job of protecting us at Midway.
    But perhaps you are on the money. We already have a Chinese-Aussie defence base in the Land Down Under.
    Melbourne Ports could be re-named Tiannamen Gap, Darwin Port re-named Port Peking and Cubby Station re-named Mao Tse Waterhole.

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  3. Fred the Philistine
    Posted November 17, 2017 at 6:57 am

    @ John Bell: Do you really think that America is going to protect us?
    Maybe we should become allies with China and let them set up a defence base in Australia!
    We have seen America’s performance in Afghanistan, Middle East, Vietnam, Korea etc never finished. As I said America only protects America.
    America will not attack any country with nuclear capabilities.

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  4. Local 1
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    @ Fred the Philistine: Do you mean neutral like Norway, Belgium and Denmark in 1940?

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  5. John Bell
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    @ Fred the Philistine: Do you realise what you have just postulated?
    A huge, defenceless land mass, with growing multicultural ethnic unrest, half our assets already sold off to foreign powers and more by the day, China owning our ports, and a chookless-head rabble loosely referred to as our parliament with no major or minor party [having any] idea how to run a pub raffle, let alone defend our national interests.
    So, Peace, Bro, get real. It ain’t gunna last much longer after we cut ties with Uncle Sam.

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  6. Peter
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    John Bell what Anti-Yank, Pro-Yank hostilities?
    Not wanting a nuclear target down the road doesn’t make me anti Yank.

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  7. Horton
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Meanwhile: “The [US] Senate has overwhelmingly approved a sweeping defence policy bill that would pump $700 billion into the military, putting the US armed forces on track for a budget greater than at any time during the decade-plus wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    “Senators passed the legislation by an 89-8 vote on Monday. The measure authorises $700 billion in military spending for the budget year that begins 1 October, expands US missile defences in response to North Korea’s growing hostility and refuses to allow excess military bases to be closed.” (The Independent.)

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  8. Fred the Philistine
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 7:36 am

    If he goes to jail it’s going to cost $2000 a week to keep him, for a protest which was for the benefit of all Australians. Be interesting to know how much this court case has cost. If he had been Indigenous, would he have been found guilty?
    Let’s also remember that America does not allow any foreign facilities on their soil, so why does Australia?
    If we lived in peace and became a neutral country there would be no need for America’s help. Remember, America only helps America.

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  9. John Bell
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I think we should take a leaf from the AFL international Aussie-Irish series.

    We could stage an annual grudge match between the Pine Gap Patriots and the Pine Gap Protesters.

    Recruits to be drawn from the growing ranks of ASNO readers and commentators. After a check for dual nationality of course. For the first few years it would be limited to five-a-side. Resolve the Anti-Yank, Pro-Yank hostilities on the footy field. Perfect. The Aussie Way.

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  10. Horton
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    You are correct @ Rules are Rules.
    There is only one law and the Americans need to respect that they are operating in Australia where we have respect for the natural order of things.
    Any jail time or significant fine for this human pilgrim will bring thunder and lightning from the gods and damage ANZUS.

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  11. Charlie Carter
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.
    Henry David Thoreau.

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  12. Rules are Rules
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Respect the Rule of the Land – or Pay the Penalty

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