A GRANDMOTHER from Dorchester who broke windows belonging to Barclays bank in protest against fossil fuel investments has been spared jail.

Rosemary Annie Webster, 65, along with six other women, appeared in Southwark Crown Court on Friday for sentencing after being found guilty of causing around £100,000 worth of criminal damage to the bank’s London headquarters in April 2021.

Mrs Webster, along with Cazzie Wood, 53, Gabby Ditton, 28, Lucy Porter, 48, Sophie Cowen, 31, and Zoe Cohen, 52, and one other who cannot be named, were handed sentences of between six and eight months, suspended for two years.

Mrs Webster described Barclays as the ‘county lines of banking,’ and during her trial told jurors the company is the global banking industry’s seventh-largest funder of fossil fuels, and the largest in Europe.

She said she took part in the Extinction Rebellion action to raise awareness among the public – adding that she fears for her grandson’s future due to the escalating climate crisis.

During the protest the group – dubbed the ‘Barclays seven’ - used hammers and chisels to break six windows and attached stickers to the building bearing slogans that said ‘break glass in case of climate emergency.’

They then sat down on the pavement to await their arrest.

Speaking ahead of the sentencing Mrs Webster told the Echo she was “terrified” by the prospect of going to jail, but that she would accept that as her fate if that is what it takes to raise awareness among the public.

As the sentences were handed out, in a show of solidarity, hundreds of women dressed as Suffragettes marched over London Bridge towards Southwark Crown Court with banners and placards saying ‘Barclays profit while the world burns.’

At the Barclays branch in Weymouth, residents read out pages from a letter written by ‘Extinction Rebellion Doctors’ to the board of Barclays Bank. They also handed out leaflets explaining why and how people should switch to a more ethical bank.

Commenting as the sentences were handed out, Dorset-based fossil fuel divestment campaigner Caz Dennett said: “It is a huge relief to learn that our friend Annie (Rosemary) and her six courageous co-defendants are not locked up.

“But it should never have come to this. Banks and investor institutions, particularly Barclays knowingly and irresponsibly fund de-forestation, pollution, and nature loss, and all of it has bad outcomes for people and our planet.

“We urge them to change their ways, turn over a new leaf, stop funding harm and start funding a future worth living in.”

During the trial the six women had all pleaded not guilty, and said in their defence that Barclays staff would have consented to the damage had they been fully informed about the climate crisis.

The prosecutor insisted this was not true and added that they were “doing it to impose their views and to force change” and because they “believe themselves to be above the law”.