graeme dunstan avoids imprisonment for his role in anti-war property destruction

by Tim Phillips

In July 2011, Graeme Dunstan assisted a fellow activist, Bryan Law, who smashed a hole in an Australian military helicopter using a garden mattock. Law died this past April. Dunstan, 71, represented himself at trial, where the jury saw video footage of Dunstan’s police interview, taken after his arrest. According to an ABC News article,

In the video, Dunstan admitted he drove his late co-accused Bryan Law to the Rockhampton airfield, opened a gate after a chain had been cut and took photos of him riding a red tricycle onto the civil aviation area before he allegedly chopped at a Tiger helicopter with a garden mattock. Dunstan said Mr Law’s act was symbolic and “spectacular” and he tried to assist however he could.

Yesterday the jury found Dunstan guilty. He was sentenced to three years of ‘good behavior,’ meaning he isn’t supposed to break the law during that time. He was also ordered to pay more than $160,000. Money will be deducted from his pension payments, but it’s unlikely the full amount will be recovered.

The helicopter was worth $45 million and was grounded for four months. In addition to seeing footage of Dunstan’s police interview, the jury also saw footage of a U.S. helicopter gunship attack that killed two Reuters journalists (and ten other people) in Baghdad in 2007. Chelsea Manning heroically leaked that footage.