NSW

Abseiler convicted of bridge charges but avoids jail

A man who brought traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge to a standstill last year when he abseiled off the top has been convicted of two offences but avoided a third conviction that could have led to a jail term.

Traffic was delayed for hours on May 13 last year when Michael Fox scaled the bridge and unfurled two banners in what he said was a protest against Australia's Family Court system.

'I have no regrets'

Michael Fox has been convicted of two offences, but avoided a jail term over his protest on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2011 which brought traffic to a standstill.

Fox abseiled down from the bridge at 7am and was immediately apprehended by police.

He was charged with obstructing traffic, climbing the bridge without lawful reason and risking public safety. He pleaded not guilty to the offences in June.

Flying Fox ... Michael Fox abseils off the Harbour Bridge, grinding Sydney transport to a halt.
Flying Fox ... Michael Fox abseils off the Harbour Bridge, grinding Sydney transport to a halt. Photo: Brendan Esposito

However, in the Downing Centre Local Court this afternoon Fox was convicted of climbing the bridge without a lawful reason and obstructing traffic. He was fined a total of $3700.

But he was not convicted on the charge of risking public safety, which could have led to a three-month jail term.

Brought traffic to a standstill ... protester Michael Fox abseils down from the bridge.
Brought traffic to a standstill ... protester Michael Fox abseils down from the bridge. Photo: Getty Images

The magistrate told Fox: "You didn't just climb any bridge, you climbed the most recognised bridge in Australia."

Speaking outside court, Fox said the decision was "a victory" because the case had brought the problems with the Family Court to the public's attention.

Avoided jail ... Bridge protester Michael Fox is taken into police custody after abseiling down.
Avoided jail ... Bridge protester Michael Fox is taken into police custody after abseiling down. Photo: Brendan Esposito

"This fight's just starting," he said.