Five Just Stop Oil protesters have been convicted of aggravated trespass after they disrupted a performance of Les Miserables in London’s West End last year.

Two of the activists were also found guilty of criminal damage after standing on the theatre’s orchestra pit netting, designed to protect the musicians below from objects falling off the stage.

The performance at the Sondheim Theatre was stopped at about 9pm on October 5 when activists climbed onto the stage and locked themselves to the set.

Just Stop Oil protest
The activists occupied the stage for around an hour before police removed them (Just Stop Oil/PA)

The “angry” audience of around 1,000 people was asked to leave the auditorium before the performance was brought to a halt around an hour later.

The estimated cost to the theatre of cancelling the performance was £60,000.

Having denied the charge, Hannah Taylor, 23, Lydia Gribbin, 28, Hanan Ameur, 22, Noah Crane, 18, and Poppy Bliss, 19, were found guilty of aggravated trespass following a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Gribbin and Crane were additionally found guilty of causing £2,000 worth of criminal damage to the theatre’s orchestra pit netting.

The court was told the netting had suffered “structural damage” from the weight of the two protesters standing on it.

The cost of repairing the damage and refunding the audience was covered by the theatre’s insurance, the court heard.

William Village, chief executive of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres which owns and operates the Sondheim, said the incident “should not be replicated”.

He continued: “We, alongside many in the theatre industry and our audiences, share the serious concerns around climate change and are committed to reducing our impact on the environment.

“Peaceful protest and free speech are cornerstones of our democracy. Nevertheless, it is clear that specific incidents such as this have a disproportionate and unreasonable effect on people going about their ordinary lives (both practically and financially) and, as such, should not be replicated.”

Asked how the audience had reacted to the group disrupting the performance, theatre manager Daniel Lewis told the court: “I heard frustration, I heard anger, I heard swearing.”

“The audience were singing to try and drown out the sound of the protest,” he added.

Mobile phone footage showed theatregoers reacting angrily to the news the performance had been called off.

Activists disrupting the performance
The estimated cost to the theatre of cancelling the performance was £60,000 (Catherine Francoise/PA)

The protesters entered the stage during a performance of Do You Hear The People Sing?

One of the activists unfurled a flag with the “Just Stop Oil message” on it, the court heard, as others attached themselves to the set.

They occupied the stage for around an hour before police removed them.

Prosecutor Jason Seetal told the court: “Just prior to the interval, (the protesters) have risen from their seats and moved to the stage area.

“Gribbin and Crane climbed on netting covering the orchestra pit … it suffered structural damage.”

Just Stop Oil protest
Police attended the incident at the Sondheim Theatre on October 5 (Catherine Francoise/PA)

“The production was stopped … it was occupied for around an hour.”

Giving evidence, Gribbin said she did not want the orchestra pit to be damaged by the protest and believed it would be safe to stand on the netting.

Les Miserables company manager Matt Byham said a child actor had been on stage at the time of the protest.

In a written statement read to the court, he said: “I was angry they had done this while a child actor was on stage.”

All five protesters will be sentenced at a later date.