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Court eases conditions on Woodside ‘conspiracy’ defendants

Activists allegedly targetted Woodside Energy chief executive Meg O'Neill's Perth residence.

Activists allegedly targetted Woodside Energy chief executive Meg O'Neill's Perth residence. Photo: AAP

Woodside Energy’s chief executive has come face to face with climate activists as she appeared in court over violence restraining orders taken out against them.

Meg O’Neill sought the interim orders following a Disrupt Burrup Hub protest outside her family home in August was foiled by counter-terrorism police.

She faced Perth Magistrates Court on Friday with an entourage of lawyers and spin doctors where she successfully applied for a final order hearing to be adjourned.

Magistrate Richard Huston also made orders for four strict interim orders to be relaxed.

Jesse Noakes, 34, Gerard Mazza, 31, Emil Davey, 21, and Matilda Lane-Rose, 19, can now make verbal and written reference to Ms O’Neill after the words “make any reference to” were removed from gag clauses.

 Conditions eased

The group can also come 50 metres closer to a series of nominated addresses after previously being restricted to 100 metres.

Ms O’Neill last week said she remains concerned about the threat posed by the activists, and that the incident was “extremely distressing” and she worries for her family’s safety.

She left the court in a black chauffeur-driven luxury car via an undercover car park usually reserved for magistrates as a Woodside staff member surveilled the waiting media and three police cars did laps of the building.

Outside court, Disrupt Burrup Hub’s lawyer Zarah Burgess said she was pleased Ms O’Neill’s legal team had agreed the gag clauses were “inappropriate”.

“We look forward to a similarly fair outcome when we’re next in court on December 4 on applications to remove the very onerous non-association conditions,” she told reporters.

Charged with conspiracy

About a dozen police were waiting for Noakes, Davey and Lane-Rose when they arrived at Ms O’Neill’s home on August 1 with an ABC camera crew.

The group was taken into custody amid allegations they illegally trespassed onto the property to intimidate her and her family.

They were later charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage, which has been criticised as police overreach and is being contested by the group.

A police prosecutor in that case on Tuesday alleged the activists visited a park across the road from Ms O’Neill’s home in the days before the protest.

Police confiscated yellow paint, water balloons and a bicycle lock during the failed protest, which Premier Roger Cook previously said was carried out by “extremists” attempting to “terrorise”.

Disrupt Burrup Hub said three further members of the group were arrested on Wednesday “after the ABC surrendered dozens of hours of Four Corners footage to WA Police earlier this month”.

ABC surrenders footage

“The ABC has surrendered their sources to WA authorities despite increasing pressure from their sources for the story, from the (Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance) and from many ABC staff not to comply with the order,” a spokesman said.

The trio were also charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and are scheduled to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on November 29.

The Burrup Peninsula, in WA’s Pilbara region and known as Murujuga to traditional owners, contains the world’s largest and oldest collection of petroglyphs.

Disrupt Burrup Hub claims Woodside’s gas drilling operations in the area and its proposed expansion form the biggest new fossil fuel project in the country and could produce billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2070.

The restraining order matter was adjourned to January 30 before a likely two-day hearing for the final violence restraining order later next year.

-AAP

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