Oxford

Campaigner guilty of Oxford University arson plot

Mel Broughton
Image caption Mel Broughton was convicted at Oxford Crown Court

An animal rights campaigner has been given a 10-year prison term after being found guilty of plotting arson attacks against Oxford University buildings.

Mel Broughton denied planning to firebomb Queen's College Sports Pavilion and Templeton College.

A jury at Oxford Crown Court convicted the 50-year-old, from Northampton, of conspiracy to commit arson.

He was also found guilty of owning an article with intent to destroy property.

Broughton was originally convicted of the offences by a jury in February 2009, and successfully appealed his conviction in February this year.

'Home made bomb'

The Court of Appeal ordered that he should face a retrial, and he has now been found guilty for a second time.

Det Supt Mark Jones, of Thames Valley Police, said it was the "right result".

He added: "He has been proven to be someone who believes direct action, in the form of planting explosives and setting fires, is acceptable.

"By doing so, he has shown that he is willing to risk the lives of other people for his cause."

The court heard Broughton, 49, placed home-made petrol bombs, made of large water bottles and sparklers, under a portable cabin at Templeton College and on the roof of Queen's College cricket pavilion in November 2006.

The cricket pavilion device ignited, causing a blaze which resulted in nearly £14,000 of damage, but two planted at Templeton College in February 2007 failed to go off.

Broughton, who spearheaded animal welfare group Speak, was protesting against the building of an animal research laboratory in Oxford, backed by the university.

An Oxford University spokesperson said: "The verdict should speak for itself. The university has always accepted the rights of protesters to voice their objections within the law.

"However, we will continue to work with all relevant authorities to protect staff and students from criminal activity of any kind."

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