Deanna Coco: bail relief for Extinction Rebellion, Fireproof Australia protester who burned flare on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge

A climate activist who previously protested topless and set fire to a pram will be released on bail from her “virtual house arrest” after her alleged involvement in the infamous Sydney Harbour Bridge protest.

Deanna “Violet” Coco, 31, is facing seven charges including using an authorised explosive not as prescribed, possessing a bright light distress signal in a public place, and interfering with the safe operation of a bridge.

Police allege that at 8.30am on April 13, Ms Coco drove a large hire truck along the Cahill Expressway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and purposefully blocked a lane during peak hour.

While the truck was obstructing traffic, Ms Coco allegedly stood on top of the parked truck holding a lit emergency flare. Police allege another person held a banner on top of the truck while two people glued themselves to the road.

The East Lismore resident is also charged with encouraging the commission of crimes by livestreaming the climate protest.

After around 25 minutes, police arrived and forcibly removed the protesters from the iconic Sydney landmark. Police allege Ms Coco resisted arrest when they charged her with seven offences.

The 31-year-old has since pleaded guilty to blocking traffic and failing to comply with police direction but has denied the remaining five charges.

Ms Coco is a serial protester and a member of climate activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Fireproof Australia.

She has been before the courts previously for rallying against a mining operation while topless and for setting fire to a pram outside Parliament House.

Her lawyer Mark Davis argued that Ms Coco’s past protesting has been used to keep her under “virtual house arrest”.

Currently, the climate activist is only allowed to leave her Lismore house between 10am to 4pm each day to prevent her from participating in peak hour protests. Mr Davis said the unnecessary curfew is restricting Ms Coco from living her life.

“She’s basically homeless. She can‘t work. She can’t get a job,” he said.

“She’s got no money and she’s also getting police visitations.”

However, prosecutor Ernest Chan argued the conditions were in place to deter Ms Coco from participating in disruptive rallies.

“The concern is not just Sydney, but any kind of protest-related activity,” he said.

After lengthy discussion, both parties agreed to remove the curfew on the climate activist and instead prohibit her from entering Sydney.

Magistrate Derek Price told the court Ms Coco would be arrested if she entered the Greater Sydney area for a reason other than a court date.

The court heard the 31-year-old will also be permitted to go on a camping holiday with her sister without breaching her residential bail conditions.

Ms Coco’s matter will return to court on October 19 before she heads to a hearing in March to fight the charges.

Originally published as Surprise court decision for alleged flare-wielding Sydney Harbour Bridge protester

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