In this weeks UK news, we read that the Colston Four were acquitted. For those unaware, these were four individuals who played an active role during BLM protests, in pulling down and dumping in the water a prominent and contentious statue of someone who had profited from the slave trade on Bristol, UK. They were charged with criminal damage and acquitted.
I'm not interested in the rights and wrongs of the case, and personally, it was a monstrous statue and unfit as a landmark. But in law, that's irrelevant.
The legal situation is that clearly, unauthorised damage to third party property occurred, clearly there was ample evidence these people either did it, or aided and abetted it, or knew or should have known it was likely if they roped the statue or brought rope and gave it to others, or were reckless to the fact.
Right or wrongly, the CPS decided that prosecution was in the public interest and I don't recall that being specifically the angle it was defended upon.
In such a situation, I'm intrigued, short of jury nullification, how a trial could end in acquittal (however deservedly). What legal arguments were made, that mattered at all, and that a judge wouldn't rightly direct to be irrelevant and should be ignored?
I've read the blow-by-blow account of trial proceedings, and I'm still at a loss to understand what happened.
We can never know what went on in a jury room, but perhaps someone can shed light on what legal premises and theories could even be relevant to acquittal (as opposed to mitigation), in this very specific controversial case.