NEWS
26/09/2012 12:26 BST | Updated 26/09/2012 13:03 BST

Trenton Oldfield, Man Who Disrupted The Boat Race, Found Guilty Of Causing A Public Nuisance

A protester who disrupted this year's Boat Race by swimming into the path of the crews has been found guilty of causing a public nuisance.

Watched by millions of TV viewers, Trenton Oldfield halted the annual race between Oxford and Cambridge universities on 7 April.

He told a jury at London's Isleworth Crown Court that the race was a symbol of elitism in government.

Judge Anne Molyneux said all options were open to the court, including jail, when he is sentenced on 19 October.

"Mr Oldfield has accepted that he disrupted the boat race," she said.

Trenton Oldfield admitted he had caused a public nuisance with his protest

The court heard that Oldfield, an Australian who moved to the UK in 2001, decided to make the protest after learning of government plans to "sell off" the NHS and "snoop" on electronic communications, and after hearing encouragement given to "dob in" people planning protests during the Olympics.

Oldfield, of Myrdle Street, east London, worked and volunteered for a decade in jobs and projects aimed at increasing better prospects for people in impoverished areas.

He stopped the annual race for around half an hour, the first time in the history of the 158-year event that it had been disrupted by a bather.

Prosecutor Louis Mably told jurors the race between Oxford and Cambridge was spoiled for hundreds of thousands of spectators watching from the banks of the river or live on BBC TV, not to mention the two university rowing teams.

Oldfield disrupted the Boat Race back in April

The judge said it was Oldfield's first offence and that five people had told the court he was a man of good character.

She said the 36-year-old had moved from his native Australia in 2011 and held a number of jobs in social projects.

However, she said: "The court will be considering if a custodial sentence is necessary."

Oldfield hugged his partner as he was released on bail until sentencing.

Oldfield caused a temporary halt to the race last April

During the trial Oldfield told the jury the race was a symbol of elitism in government and that London "has the highest inequality in the western world".

He said: "(The boat race is) 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."

He had told the court that he 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.

Oldfield said with coalition public spending cuts implemented, London was "kind of worse than in Dickens' time".

Oldfield, accompanied by his wife Deepa Naik, made a brief statement to reporters outside the court.

"As inequality increases across Britain and much of the world, so does the criminalisation of protest," he said.

"My solidarity is with everyone working towards more equitable societies everywhere."

Oldfield then ran back into the court after he was bombarded with questions by reporters.