In the courts: 18 years for animal rights firebomber

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An animal rights activist was jailed for a total of 18 years yesterday for waging firebomb terror campaigns against high street stores.

Barry Horne, who blitzed the Isle of Wight in a pounds 3m night of terror, stood impassively as he was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court. But more than two dozen supporters erupted angrily at the sentence and shouted and banged against glass partitions of the public gallery before being removed by police.

Passing sentence Judge Simon Darwall-Smith told Horne, 45, from Northampton, that pre-sentence reports indicated that he had shown no form of remorse and his intention was to cause the maximum amount of physical and economic damage against his chosen targets. "This was urban terrorism for a particular cause by which you put communities in terror."

The judge said he accepted that he did not intend to attack human life or limb. Horne, who was convicted last month on 12 counts related to his arson campaigns, smiled briefly and gave a thumbs-up salute to supporters in the public gallery as he was led from the dock.

Police believe that he operated as a lone wolf in his terror campaign, believing that his solo operation was the best strategy to prevent detection.

Following his arrest in summer last year in Bristol's Broadmead shopping centre he has refused to say anything to investigators. He was detained in July 1996 after he had planted firebomb devices in two city centre stores and had moved on to a third. Undercover officers found four more small incendiary devices in his jacket - all timed to go off after midnight - which they made safe. The firebomb devices matched unexploded devices recovered in August 1994 after four arson incidents on the Isle of Wight.