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
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links