Animal rights militant admits bomb offences

A man accused of being the Animal Liberation Front's leading bomb-maker faces a lengthy jail sentence after admitting conducting a campaign of terror against companies linked to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).

Donald Currie, 39, a jobless father of three, was remanded in custody at Reading Crown Court. He will be sentenced on 28 September after psychiatric reports.

Police, who have launched a crackdown against animal rights extremists resulting in several high-profile convict-ions, claimed they had delivered a serious setback to militants. A senior police source said after the hearing: "Currie is the Animal Liberation Front's top bomber. This is a significant blow to animal rights extremism."

Currie admitted arson charges and possessing makeshift incendiary devices. He also admitted two counts of possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life and seriously damage property.

Currie was arrested in March after an incident at the home of Roland and Caroline Brooks, in Caversham, Berkshire. Police discovered homemade bombs, consisting of weed killer and sugar, below Mr Brooks' car. He was a director of PDP Courier Services, which had alleged dealings with HLS. A message on an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) website warned: "Unless you pull out of HLS, we will be back soon, and next time we'll blow them up."

The Cambridgeshire-based biotech company has been the subject of a long-running and increasingly violent campaign against its use of animals in clinical trials. Currie also pleaded guilty to arson, and recklessly endangering life in another attack on property belonging to Paul and Joan Blackburn, of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in September last year.

Currie denied a fifth similar charge over a blaze in May last year at a cardboard box firm in Williton, Somerset, which caused £140,000-worth of damage. A note admitting responsibility for the blaze was posted on an ALF website. John Price, for the prosecution, told the court that Currie's pleas were acceptable to the Crown because he had admitted the most serious offences.

Acting Deputy Chief Constable Alex Marshall, of Thames Valley Police, said: "The offences were of a very serious nature and demonstrate the lengths a minority of animal-rights activists are prepared to go to for their cause. The bravery of the victims, who refused to be intimidated by extremists who targeted their homes and families, coupled with the determination and hard work put in by the detectives on this case, has produced an excellent result today. We await sentencing with interest."

In 2001, David Blenkinsop, 34, from Horsted Keynes, West Sussex was jailed for three years after he admitted attacking the managing director of HLS with a pickaxe handle. Brian Cass, 53, was left with a three-inch head wound after the attack.

Animal rights activists have recently focused their attention on Oxford University, which is planning to build a new research laboratory. The original contractors pulled out after threats. In May, four animal rights activists were jailed for conspiracy to blackmail the owners of a farm that bred guinea pigs for medical research at Newchurch in Staffordshire. The six-year campaign culminated in the theft of the remains of one of the owner's late relatives from a local graveyard. The farm later ceased breeding guinea pigs.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test