Budapest George Ezra
26 September 2012, 16:01
Trenton Oldfield has today been found guilty of causing a public nuisance after disrupting this year's Boat Race.
The 36 year-old Australian was found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court of causing a public nuisance after he swam into the middle of the Thames after the start of the 2012 Boat Race in London - and directly into the path of the Cambridge and Oxford crews.
On April 7th, and in front of millions of television viewers Mr Oldfield halted the annual race between the two sides.
He stopped the annual contest for around half an hour, the first time in the history of the 158-year event that it had been disrupted by a bather.
He told a jury at London's Isleworth Crown Court, where he denied causing a public nuisance, that the race was a symbol of elitism in Government and that London "has the highest inequality in the western world''.
Asked what the Boat Race had to do with it, Oldfield said: "It's a symbol of a lot of issues in Britain around class, 70% of Government pushing through very significant cuts are Oxford or Cambridge graduates. It was a symbolic gesture to these kind of issues.''
Australian Oldfield, who moved to the UK in 2001, decided to make the protest after learning of Government plans to "sell-off" the NHS, "snoop" on electronic communications and hearing encouragement given to "dob in" people planning protests during the Olympics.
The defendant, of Myrdle Street, east London, had worked and volunteered for a decade working in jobs and projects aimed at increasing better prospects for people in impoverished areas. With coalition public spending cuts implemented, London was "kind of worse than in Dickens' time'', he said.
"With these levels of cuts it became apparent to me that something needed to be done. I felt it was an important thing to do.''
Oldfield said some spectators thought his actions had improved the race. He said: "Lots of people thought it made it the most exciting Boat Race ever.''
The judge said as it was Oldfield's first offence and that five people had told the court he was a man of good character. The 36 year-old had moved from his native Australia in 2011 and held a number of jobs in social projects. However, the judge said: "The court will be considering if a custodial sentence is necessary.''
Oldfield hugged his partner as he was released on bail until sentencing.