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Judge weighs destruction of Fairy Creek protester’s camping gear in sentencing decision

A protester has their arm locked into a hole in the ground while protesting old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. (RCMP) A protester has their arm locked into a hole in the ground while protesting old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. (RCMP)
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A University of Victoria instructor has been sentenced to 70 hours of community service for his role in protesting old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed on southwestern Vancouver Island.

Keith Cherry, 34, admitted to violating a 2021 court injunction that was imposed to prevent protesters from blockading logging operations in the watershed, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision issued last month but only published online Thursday.

In his reasons for the sentencing, Justice Douglas Thompson gave consideration to evidence that Cherry lost more than $1,600 in camping gear that was destroyed during his arrest.

According to the court, Cherry had chained his arm inside a large log that was laid across a logging road on Sept. 13, 2021.

While the log did not block the full width of the road, it impeded traffic from passing because one side of the road was flanked by a rock wall and the other by a steep cliff.

Twenty large nails were hammered into the log to make it difficult for anyone to remove the protester’s arm, Thompson said.

While Cherry had placed his camping gear in a ditch at the side of the road, the gear "ended up in the middle of the road" during his arrest and "was repeatedly run over by a road grader," Thompson said.

The judge credited the destruction of Cherry’s personal property as a "collateral consequence" that warranted reducing his initial sentencing consideration from 100 hours of community service to 70 hours.

"The consequence for Mr. Cherry, a man of good character, a man without a criminal record who engaged in this act of disobedience, would be 100 hours of community work service but for the loss of his gear," Thompson said. "I agree with Mr. Cherry’s point that even when one expects to be arrested that they should not expect that their belongings will be lost or damaged."

The judge ordered the community service to be performed within 11 months. 

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