Artistic duo in Sydney cannabis laws protest ‘vindicated’ as prosecutors drop charges

The Guardian

An artistic duo who have spent nearly two years embroiled in legal proceedings related to a Sydney protest over cannabis laws have had all charges against them dropped.

The pair, who have been under bail conditions for nearly two years, were awarded $2,750 each by a magistrate on Friday for some of the legal fees they had incurred.

Artists Alec Zammitt and Will Stolk, along with a group of activists under the banner “who are we hurting?”, staged a protest in Sydney on 20 April 2022 advocating for reform around New South Wales driving legislation for medicinal cannabis patients.

The group projected pro-cannabis lights and imagery onto the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as part of their protest, using high-powered lasers at 4.20am, coordinated from inside a hotel room. Police went to the hotel and interrogated Zammitt for about 40 minutes, he told Guardian Australia. Stolk was also questioned.

In court on Friday the prosecution withdrew its charges, and lawyers for the duo pushed for costs.

Zammitt’s lawyer, James Clements, argued that it was only Zammitt and Stolk who were treated as suspects in the matter. Two women were also in the room at some point and there was a photographer outside, the court heard.

Clements argued the pair admitted guilt under the influence of a threat from Chief Insp Gary Coffey, the officer in charge. At a previous hearing in August last year, the magistrate, Daniel Reiss, deemed evidence from the prosecution as inadmissible under s84 of the evidence act, as it was deemed Zammitt was influenced by the threat of “oppressive conduct”.

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