BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Entire community became a target
Golf club
The local golf club was targeted by the extremists
Four animal rights activists have been jailed for conspiracy to blackmail the owners of a farm which bred guinea pigs for medical research.

In a six-year campaign of terror anyone associated with the farm, however slimly, became a target for them.

Farm employees, the local golf club, the village pub and a local newsagents all suffered at the hands of the extremists.

DAVID HALL AND PARTNERS

David Hall and Partners is a family-run farm that bred guinea pigs for medical research for more than 30 years at Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire.

THE GUILTY BLACKMAILERS
Jon Ablewhite, 36, of Levenshulme, Manchester
John Smith, 39, of Leicester Street, Wolverhampton
Kerry Whitburn, 36, of Edgbaston, Birmingham
Josephine Mayo, 38, of Edgbaston, Birmingham

In September 1999 about 600 guinea pigs were stolen from the farm, owned by brothers John and Christopher Hall. Weekly protests soon began by the Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs (SNGP) group.

For six years the protests continued and the Hall family received hundreds of abusive letters and malicious phone calls.

In March 2005 a petrol can was left burning on the doorstep of Sally-Ann Hall, 28, the daughter of John Hall, 57, and could have killed her if it had exploded.

Petrol device
This petrol can was lit and left burning on Sally-Ann Hall's doorstep

Paint stripper was used on cars outside the home of Francis Redfern, who was the cousin of John Hall's wife.

In October 2004 the grave of Gladys Hammond, who was Christopher Hall's mother-in-law, was dug up and her remains removed. Letters were sent telling the Hall family to stop breeding animals.

The farm ceased its breeding programme in January this year. Mrs Hammond's remains were found by police after a tip-off last week.

HALL FAMILY EMPLOYEES

May Hudson, 67, was a cleaner at Darley Oaks but was forced to resign after bricks were thrown through her window, cards sent intimidating her young grandchildren, and a letter sent threatening to dig up her dead husband's body.

Bird scarer
Bird scarers were let off outside the homes of people linked to the farm

Farmhand Simon Turner, 41, from Barton-under-Needwood, also suffered a campaign against him.

Graffiti was written on his house, a doll with a knife in its chest was left in his garden and on another occasion shotgun cartridges spelt out his name.

Another farmhand, Nicholas Sanders, 37, was also terrorised. In July 2003 electricity to his street was cut and stones thrown through his windows. Abusive letters were also sent and a commercially-produced bird scarer set off outside his house and the house of his partner's parents.

OTHER BUSINESSES ATTACKED

Leicestershire-based Lloyd Fraser Holdings terminated its milk distribution contract with the farm after it was targeted by activists.

John Hall resigned his membership from Branston Golf and Country Club after putting greens were damaged and graffiti sprayed in the grounds.

Malicious letter
Hundreds of threatening letters were sent to the Hall family

Oil suppliers Dove Fuels stopped its relationship with the farm after letters were sent claiming the owner was a paedophile.

The Burntwood-based family firm also suffered malicious calls and letters, smashed windows and damaged vehicles.

The Hall family cancelled their newspaper order with Yoxall Newsagents after the shop was sent letters by the activists.

Springwood Veterinary Practice stopped its links with the farm after it was sent several letters containing powder.



PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific