Gilmour among mob who set on Prince's car, court hears

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The Independent Online

The son of the Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour jumped on the bonnet of a protection car escorting Prince Charles during last year's student tuition-fee protests and helped ransack a nearby Topshop store, a court heard yesterday.

Charlie Gilmour, the Cambridge University student who was photographed earlier in the day swinging from a Union Flag on the Cenotaph, was part of a breakaway mob of protesters who set upon a Rolls-Royce carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall as they made their way to a charity gala on 9 December last year.

Earlier that day tens of thousands of students and academics had marched through London in protest at the Government's plans to increase tuition fees. The protest was marked by scenes of violence as students sporadically battled with riot police.

Gilmour, 21, pleaded guilty to violent disorder in May but his sentencing was put off to allow him time to finish his exams. Yesterday he appeared at Kingston Crown Court for sentencing. Wearing a grey suit and black tie and a considerably shorter hair style, he was accompanied by his father and his novelist mother, Polly Samson. The maximum sentence for violent disorder is five years in jail.

The prosecution presented evidence detailing how Gilmour had been photographed at the violent protests in Parliament Square and later in Regent Street and Oxford Street where Prince Charles's car was attacked.

Prosecutors played videos in which Gilmour was heard to say: "They broke the moral law, we are going to break all the laws. Arson. Destroy. We are not going to stand for it any more: storm Parliament." As the clips were shown, the university student covered his face with embarrassment.

Duncan Penny, for the prosecution, told the court that Gilmour had also leapt on to the bonnet of a Jaguar driving up Regent Street in a royal convoy. The convoy was set upon as it made its way to the London Palladium for the Royal Variety Performance. Police officers knocked Gilmour down as he ran alongside the Rolls-Royce carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, so he moved to one of the protection vehicles and sat on the bonnet.

Mr Penny said Gilmour was also seen kicking the windows of Topshop in Oxford Street which were later smashed and he was seen wielding a mannequin leg which had been taken from the store.

David Spens QC, for the defence, said his client was not displaying real violence throughout the day.

"Up until Topshop, the worst of his behaviour was playing the fool, showing off, posing for the cameras," he said.

Sentencing was adjourned to this morning.