The 15 people who were potentially facing life sentences for disrupting a deportation plane will likely avoid jail.

At Chelmsford Crown Court this morning the group of human rights activists known as the Stansted 15 were told by judge Christopher Morgan they would not receive life in prison - the maximum sentence for endangering the safety of an aerodrome.

In his preliminary remarks the judge suggested it was unlikely any of the protestors would be put behind bars.

Epping Forest Guardian:

The group was found guilty last month of endangering the safety of an aerodrome after cutting the fence around the airside area of Stansted, running on to the apron and chaining themselves together around a Boeing 767 chartered to remove 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone on 28 March 2017.

Hundreds of supporters of the Stansted 15 gathered outside the court from 8.30am.

They blocked the road and chanted “Stansted 15, we are with you" as the group entered the court house.

Epping Forest Guardian:

A number of the group are from Waltham Forest including: Nicholas Sigsworth, of Clementia Road, Leytonstone; Emma Hughes, 38, of Vicarage Road, Leytonstone; Melanie Evans , 35, of Vicarage Road, Leytonstone; Melanie Stickland , 35, of Borwick Avenue, Walthamstow; May Mackeith , 33, of Clementina Road, Leytonstone.

Responding to the judge's indications, the defendants demanded that their convictions are quashed, and that the government dismantle the UK’s ‘vicious immigration system’.

In a statement, the Stansted 15 said: “These terror convictions and the ten-week trial that led to them are an injustice that has profound implications for our lives.

"The convictions will drastically limit our ability to work, travel and take part in everyday life. Yet, people seeking asylum in this country face worse than this: they are placed in destitution and their lives in limbo, by the Home Office’s vicious system every single day.

“When a country uses draconian terror legislation against people for peaceful protest, snatches others from their homes in dawn raids, incarcerates them without time limit and forces them onto planes in the middle of the night, due to take them to places where their lives might be at risk, something is very seriously wrong.

"Every single one of us should be very worried about our democracy and our future.

“We demand that these convictions are quashed, and that the Government dismantles the vicious, barely legal, immigration system that destroys so many people’s lives.”

The afternoon session is about to begin. It will commence with the defence continuing to present their cases for sentencing.

The defence are making cases for conditional discharges with supporting witness statements, work committments and evidence of the detrimental impact of the trial.

Our reporter on the scene will update the sentence once it has been fully passed.