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03rd Dec 2020

Protestor who set fire to Union Flag on the Cenotaph is spared jail

A 19-year-old protestor who set fire to the Union Flag on The Cenotaph during a Black Lives Matter protest has been spared jail

Alex Roberts

The judge instead handed him a conditional discharge and £340 fine

A protestor who set fire to the Union Flag on The Cenotaph during a Black Lives Matter protest has been spared jail.

19-year-old Astrophel Sang had previously pleaded guilty to one count of attempted arson at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 4th November.

During widespread protests in London on June 7th this year, Sang was captured on camera attempting to set the union flag on fire. He had scaled The Cenotaph national war memorial in order to reach it.

However, the flag failed to light and Sang was subsequently arrested.

The court heard how the Coventry University student could have potentially faced 18 months in jail for his actions – but he escaped without a prison sentence.

Instead, Judge Christopher Hehir handed Sang a two-year conditional discharge and a fine worth £340 to cover court fees.

The judge said: “I am at a loss as to understanding why you or anyone, in the course of a Black Lives Matter protest, would seek to target The Cenotaph. The Cenotaph commemorates all those who have died fighting for this country, and they weren’t all white you know.”

Sang attempted to set fire to the Union Flag during protests earlier this year. (Photo: Getty)

The judge then explained how The Cenotaph honours ex-service personnel from all backgrounds and ethnicities.

“The fallen commemorated at The Cenotaph includes people from all colours and creeds, from many different people from the world who came together to fight racism and fascism in World War Two.

“Had this country and her allies not prevailed between 1939 and 1945 you would not have been free to attend a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020.”

Before sentencing, the judge read out a selection of victim impact statements from conflict veterans and their relatives.

One statement in particular stood out. It was made by a woman whose grandfather formed part of the Indian Merchant Navy. The Indian Merchant Navy provided immense support to Allied troops during the Second World War.

The statement read: “I feel the person who did this disrespected our own ancestors too. Half the world came together against fascism of the worst kind.

“It really cut deep when I saw such a mindless act of vandalism. It gives us all a space to remember the fallen and say a prayer to them and it breaks my heart that someone could do something so hateful and desecrate it.”

Sang’s solicitor claimed he was unaware of The Cenotaph’s significance.