Probearer who abseiled from bridge pleads guilty

Probearer who abseiled from bridge pleads guilty

A protester who abseiled from a bridge causing traffic disruption in Adelaide's CBD haspleaded guilty to obstruction of a public space.

In May, Meme Caroline Thorne was arrested during a protest outside the Adelaide Convention Centre, where a gas and oil conference was being held by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.

The protest triggered the suspension of trams along the nearby North Terrace and blocked the Morphett Street bridge, resulting in significant disruption in the middle of the city.

Thorne abseiled off the bridge and remained suspended over North Terrace for at least an hour before being safely brought down by emergency services.

Thorne, who was arrested on Tuesday in Adelaide Magistrates Court, pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing a public space, while police dropped two other similar allegations.

In response to that protest and the next day, the South Australian government introduced new laws increasing the maximum penalty for 'obstructing a public place' from $750 to $50,000 or three months in jail.

The new laws, which were passed in the weeks following the demonstrations, represent the harshest penalties for that charge in the nation.

Civil society groups - such as the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International SA/NT and the South Australian Council of Social Services - have objected to the passage of the bill.

Along with the heaviest penalty in Australia, the legislative changes also allow a court to order someone found guilty to the offence to compensate police for the cost of responding to the incident.

The bill states that proof of those costs can be obtained through a certificate 'apparently signed by the chief officer of the relevant entity'.

Thorne will be sentenced in November.