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25 October 2010, 11:57
Six animal rights activists, who intimidated companies linked to Huntingdon Life Sciences, have been sentenced.
Their goal was to try and force the animal testing lab out of business.
Sarah Whitehead, 53, Nicole Vosper, 22, Thomas Harris, 27, Jason Mullan, 32, and Nicola Tapping, 29, were all members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac), and have been sentenced to between six years and 15 months in prison.
The youngest member of the conspiracy Alfie Fitzpatrick, 21, received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community work.
Winchester Crown Court heard, during the sentencing hearing, that the six waged a wide-ranging international conspiracy of intimidation against a host of supply companies to force the closure of Cambridge-based HLS, using Shac as a front.
Action included realistic hoax bombs posted to the homes of staff and offices, criminal damage and threats of violence.
Whitehead, of Thorncroft Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex, Vosper, of Bay View Terrace, Newquay, Cornwall, and Harris, of Somerville Road, Ringwood, Hampshire, admitted conspiracy to blackmail companies and suppliers linked to the Cambridge-based company between 2001 and 2008.
Mullan, of Holloway Road, London, Tapping, of Somerville Road, Ringwood and Fitzpatrick, of Knowle Road, Solihull, West Midlands, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harm Huntingdon Life Sciences from 2005 to 2008 under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 by interfering with companies supplying them.