Our journalism needs your support! Become a member
The Bristol Cable

‘Not guilty’ plead the Colston 4

The case will be heard in Bristol Crown Court on 8 February.


Photo credit: Rohan Roy

Half a mile from the vacant plinth, the trial of the ‘Colston 4’ began this morning. A crowd of press and police gathered outside a frosty Bristol Magistrates Court as Jake Skuse, 36, Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, and Sage Willoughby, 21, filed into the courtroom. 

The statue of 18th Century slave trader Edward Colston was pulled from his plinth, rolled and plunged into the river by protestors during the Black Lives Matter protests in Bristol on 7 June last year. The controversial statue – the centre of furious debate for decades, was pulled down in an afternoon of direct action. 

In October, following police appeals for information about the topplers, six people admitted their involvement in the toppling and accepted a ‘conditional caution’. 

In court, the four were charged with ‘criminal damage to property valued under £5000’ pleading not guilty, in front of District Judge Lyn Matthews. Given the option, they elected to be tried in front of a judge and jury at the Crown Court.

Raj Chada, head of criminal defence, and Laura O’Brien, associate at the high profile law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, made a statement on behalf of three of the defendants: “We will fight these criminal charges vigorously on behalf of our clients. We are committed to defending them and their right to a fair trial in this important case.” 

The Colston 4 will now appear in Bristol Crown Court on 8 February.


Report a comment. Comments are moderated according to our Comment Policy.

  • I am like most of the people involved in pulling down Colston’s statue, am white. All of the four people charged are like me. We all , like many others support BLM but I am (after all this time) concerned and confused at why white people of various ages and cultures are stepping in and have taken responsibility for the realities of the black community. Surely we need to stand back, support the cause, but not drive it , however conscious our motives our.


    • It is white people that uphold the racial inequalities in our country (whether we want to or not) and therefore it is our responsibility as white people to dismantle this system that has for so long given us an unearned advantage in life. Black people have had to fight this battle alone for a long time, and they shouldn’t have to. We should all be fighting this, and it is particularly important that white people take on their fair share of the legwork. This is everybody’s problem.


  • There needs to be a Civil case against them to pay for it to be replaced.


  • is there a defense fund for this case?


Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

‘The city needs to heal’: Cable readers on what should happen now, following the ‘Colston 4’ trial

The future of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue and the space it occupied are still contested in Bristol. We asked what should happen next.

‘A monumental moment in history’: Cable readers react to the Colston 4 being cleared

Most readers expressed support for the Colston 4 and criticised past inaction from the council, while others had concerns about what their acquittal meant for the fate of other statues.

Watch: Reactions to Colston 4 verdict after defendants walk free from court

Following the landmark trial's conclusion, this video captures the moment the defendants walked free, and reactions from those involved.

Colston 4 found not guilty of criminal damage to slave trader’s statue

The public gallery erupted with cheers and applause as the defendants were cleared following a landmark trial

Colston statue dumped in harbour so council wouldn’t put it back up, defendant tells court

The case has been adjourned until 4 January, when the jury will hear closing speeches from the prosecution and defence, as well as the judge’s summing up of evidence.

Descendant of enslaved person says Colston’s statue remaining in place was ‘profoundly shameful’

The act ‘centred’ a global conversation about Britain’s role in the slave trade, she told the trial of the Colston 4.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning