Oxford

Animal rights campaigner 'targeted Oxford University'

Mel Broughton
Image caption Campaigner Mel Broughton is on trial in Oxford

An animal rights campaigner planted home-made petrol bombs at two Oxford University sites, a court has heard.

Mel Broughton, 49, of Semilong Road, Northampton, allegedly targeted Queen's College sports pavilion in 2006 and Templeton College the following year.

The jury heard he was protesting against the institution's plans to build an animal testing laboratory.

At Oxford Crown Court, Mr Broughton denies a charge of conspiracy to commit arson.

Prosecutor Neil Moore described the defendant as a "fanatic" who mounted a "terrorist campaign" against the university.

He added: "There can be no doubt that he lived and breathed animal rights."

Image caption Mr Broughton allegedly targeted Oxford University.

Mr Moore said the first device was set at a cricket pavilion in November 2006.

He told the jury other unexploded devices were found at Templeton College in February 2007, eight days after they were lit.

One of the petrol-filled bottles at Templeton College had its cap fitted loosely, allowing vapour to leak out, the court heard.

Mr Moore added: "It could have caused a violent fireball, rather than the steady spread of fire. You can imagine, if the fire had taken hold, the consequent damage that could ensue."

As well as conspiracy to commit arson, Mr Broughton also denies an alternative charge of possession of an article with intent to destroy property.

The trial continues.

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