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Three SHAC extremists sentenced for attacks on Barclays

Three British animal rights extremists have been sentenced at Winchester Crown Court in the UK for their involvement in a string of ‘direct actions’ against four Barclays branches in 2008


The three British animal rights extremists are linked to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), the campaign to close the animal research centre Huntingdon Life Sciences. They have been sentenced at Winchester Crown Court in the UK for their involvement in a string of ‘direct actions’ against four Barclays branches in 2008.

At the time of the attacks, the asset management arm of the British bank had owned a 3% share of HLS.

Thomas Harris, 27, who is already serving a four year term for a previous campaign against HLS, was given a twelve month sentence to be served consecutively. Christopher Potter, 20, and his girlfriend Maria Neal, 21, both from Warwickshire, were given twelve month suspended sentences and 120 hours of community service. All three had previously admitted conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

In addition to the sentences, the three were also given five year Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. The prosecutor, Roger Climie, said Harris was in charge of SHAC at the time of the attacks, but accepted that he was abroad when they were carried out by Potter and Neal.

The court heard that the pair, from Seggs Lane, Alcester, had sprayed ‘scum’, ‘murderers’, and ‘ALF’ on the doors and windows of four Barclays branches, and had glued post boxes and cash machine slots shut. They also damaged a car belonging to someone mistakenly believed to have had links to a supplier of HLS, causing £7,500 worth of damage. A van belonging to FedEx, another target company, was also damaged.

In total, the three defendants caused a total of £12,000 worth of damage.

Judge Keith Cutler said: “Each of you have pleaded guilty to a conspiracy which, quite frankly, reflects an appalling period of behaviour.”

He described Potter and Neal as “young and idealistic” and added: “I hope when you look at yourselves two years ago you recoil in horror and think, ‘What on Earth was I doing?’.”

“I hope it will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

The hearing follows a number of recent prosecutions of SHAC extremists.

In October last year, Harris and his girlfriend Nicola Tapping were among five SHAC members to be sentenced for their involvement in the illegal campaign against HLS. They received sentences of between twelve months and six years.

Other members, including the founders Gregg Avery, Natasha Avery and Heather Nicholson, were among seven to be convicted in January 2009 following the Europe-wide Operation Achilles. They received a total of fifty years in prison.