During the 10th November protests over the increase in tuition fees for English students, Edward Woollard, aged 18, of Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire, was on the roof of the seven-storey Millbank Tower in central London, which houses the HQ of the Tory Party, when he picked up the fire extinguisher and sprayed it until it was empty. He then threw it at a group of riot police on the ground below, missing them by a matter of just feet.
His mother, Tania Garwood, handed her son into the police by driving him to the police station. Yesterday she broke down in court as the judge handed down the sentence, telling him it was ‘exceedingly fortunate’ that no one had been killed or seriously hurt.
In a statement to police, Woollard said he ‘lobbed it to go into the gap in the crowd below’ and that ‘it was absolutely not intended that anyone in anyway should be hurt’.
Fortunately a police officer on the ground saw the extinguisher falling from the sky and yelled at colleagues to get out of the way. Footage on YouTube shows the extinguisher landing within just 3 feet of the police officers.
The protests by the students was over the tripling of university tuition fees, for English students only, to a maximum of £9000 per year. Almost all of the protesting students were English because, as is common in the current "United" Kingdom, the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish are given generous freebies which are denied to the English but are paid for by the English taxpayer (the English not only give loads of money to French farmers and to builds roads in Greece, but they also pay for the Scots and Welsh to have free prescriptions which the English have to pay for and for the Scots and Welsh to have free life-saving drugs which are completely denied to the English). In the case of tuition fees, the pampered Scots do not have to pay any (although the English, Welsh and Northern Irish have to pay them to study at Scottish universities) and the Welsh tuition fees are staying the same.
What makes it even more galling that tuition fees in England are tripling whereas the Scots do not have to pay them at all is that England only has tuition fees due mainly to the number of Scottish MPs voting FOR England to have them, despite the fact that English MPs were NOT allowed to vote on the issue of tuition fees in Scotland!
The student riots was just one manifestation of English anger over the unfair and undemocratic way they are being treated by the British government, and it won't be the last.
Teenage student protester who hurled a fire extinguisher during the tuition fees riots is jailed for 2 years and 8 months
By Charlotte Gill
12th January 2011
An A-level student who hurled a fire extinguisher off a roof was yesterday jailed for more than two and a half years, after a judge praised his distraught mother for handing him in.
Tania Garwood drove her 18-year-old son Edward Woollard to a police station hours after he confessed to lobbing the one-stone canister from the top of the Tory Party HQ during a tuition fees riot.
Yesterday the 37-year-old broke down in court as her son was jailed for two years and eight months after the judge told him it was ‘exceedingly fortunate’ that no one had been killed or seriously hurt.
Guilty: Edward Woollard arrives at Southwark Crown Court holding hands with his mother Tania Garwood
She was comforted by her second husband, Michael, as she sat in the public gallery wracked with sobs, surrounded by friends and family.
Woollard, a sixth-former at Brockenhurst College in the New Forest, had travelled to London on a coach with fellow students on November 10 last year to join a protest organised by the National Union of Students against the rise in tuition fees.
Shock: Edward Woollard arrives at Southwark Crown Court, London to be sentenced for violent disorder
The march had started peacefully and video at the start of the demonstration showed Woollard, of Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire, dancing with other protesters.
But when a splinter group smashed down the glass frontage of 30 Millbank and made their way on to the roof, Woollard followed the throng to the top of the building.
When another protester put down a fire extinguisher which he had been spraying over the crowd, Woollard picked it up and carried on spraying until it was empty before throwing it off the seventh-floor rooftop towards police officers and protesters below.
Danger: Woollard threw the heavy metal extinguisher from the roof of Millbank Tower at the height of the protests
Near miss: The fire extinguisher clattered to the ground just a few feet from where Met Police officers were standing in the courtyard
In a statement to police, the teenager, who was on his first unescorted trip to London, said he ‘lobbed it to go into the gap in the crowd below’ and that ‘it was absolutely not intended that anyone in anyway should be hurt’.
Fortunately a police officer on the ground saw the extinguisher falling from the sky and yelled at colleagues to get out of the way.
Footage from YouTube played at Southwark Crown Court in London showed how the extinguisher fell within three feet of police officers.
The judge told Woollard: 'The televised recording of the incident shows that this heavy fire extinguisher fell terrifyingly close to a group of police officers'
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC told him: ‘The televised recording of the incident shows that this heavy fire extinguisher fell terrifyingly close to a group of police officers – just a few feet away.
‘It is in my judgment exceedingly fortunate that your action did not result in death or very serious injury either to a police officer or a fellow protester.’
Poised: Woollard was pictured brandishing the extinguisher moments earlier
Moment of madness: Woollard was 'high-spirited and excited' as he sprayed the extinguisher before launching it several storeys below
‘Nevertheless I shall take into account in your favour the extraordinary and courageous conduct of your mother, which resulted in you giving yourself up to the police so quickly.’
He also acknowledged Woollard’s age, early guilty plea and good references, but added: ‘It is deeply regrettable, indeed a shocking thing, for a court to have to sentence a young man such as you to a substantial term of custody.
‘But the courts have a duty to provide the community with such protection from violence as they can and this means sending out a very clear message to anyone minded to behave in this way that an offence of this seriousness will not be tolerated.
EDWARD WOOLLARD'S APOLOGY: 'I DIDN'T MEAN TO HURT ANYBODY'
When I was told I had potentially endangered people, I felt sick.
Someone partially emptied a fire extinguisher, I then took the fire extinguisher and I emptied the rest.
When the extinguisher was emptied, I lobbed it to go into a gap in the crowd below.
I was absolutely not intending that anyone in any way would be hurt.
Very soon afterwards, I realised it was something I should not have done. I regret bitterly what I did.
‘The right of peaceful protest is a precious one. Those who abuse it and use the occasion to indulge in serious violence must expect a lengthy sentence of immediate custody.’
Woollard will serve half his sentence in custody in a Young Offenders’ Institution.
Mrs Garwood persuaded her son to give himself up after Sky News broadcast a picture of him as the protester who threw the fire extinguisher five days after the protest.
In a statement to police after his arrest, Woollard said: ‘’Very soon after [throwing the canister] I realised it was something I should not have done and I regret bitterly what I did.
'When I was told I had potentially endangered people I felt sick. I would like to apologise to the people who felt endangered and were endangered.’
His mother declined to comment afterwards but said earlier that he deserved to be punished.
Mrs Garwood, said she feared the incident had ruined his life, telling The Times this week:
‘I brought up my children to take responsibility for their actions and he has. I believe he deserves to be punished. I just hope it is the right punishment.
‘He is a loving, caring, gentle man. He has got a lot to give, he has got a lot to learn. I hope he has got the chance to continue his education and it hasn’t ruined his life.’