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Protestors appear in court

PUBLISHED: 18:28 18 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 March 2010

THREE protestors today appeared in court after a door was painted purple to highlight fathers suffering at not being given equal parenting rights.

Sarah Ashford, 39, from Goldsmith Close, Bury St Edmunds, Matthew O'Connor, 36, from Water Lane, Cavendish and Shaun O'Connell, 40, from Sandiago Road in Gosport, Hampshire all pleaded not guilty to criminal damage.

THREE protestors today appeared in court after a door was painted purple to highlight fathers suffering at not being given equal parenting rights.

Sarah Ashford, 39, from Goldsmith Close, Bury St Edmunds, Matthew O'Connor, 36, from Water Lane, Cavendish and Shaun O'Connell, 40, from Sandiago Road in Gosport, Hampshire all pleaded not guilty to criminal damage.

While they were inside a group of supporters protested in support of their cause outside the magistrates' court in Ipswich.

In an unusual step O'Connell and O'Connor wanted their cases heard at Ipswich Crown Court as they "felt they had a better chance of a fair trial". All three have been granted unconditional bail and will return to South East Suffolk Magistrates Court on September 3.

Their court appearance comes after a door to the building of Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), was painted purple by protestors from The Fathers Four Justice Group, and caused £190 of damage to the door, on February 5.

The protestors were demonstrating over unfair treatment, fathers receive in court custody battles. They claim CAFCASS workers "under trained and under resourced". The protestors said the reason why they splashed purple paint over the former white door of the offices is because purple stands for equality.

There are over a thousand people in the Fathers Four Justice Group and this figure is growing quickly. They are based in Suffolk but have also campaigned in Portsmouth, Liverpool and London.

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