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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 19:06 GMT 20:06 UK
Jail for lab boss attacker
Brian Cass
Brian Cass was attacked in February
A man has been jailed for three years after he admitted attacking the managing director of an animal research company with a pickaxe handle.

Brian Cass, 53, boss of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), in Cambridgeshire, was left with a three-inch head wound after the attack.

David Blenkinsop, 34, from Horsted Keynes, West Sussex, admitted unlawfully wounding Mr Cass at Peterborough Crown Court.

Judge Neil McKittrick described it as a "wicked act" against a defenceless man.

Brian Cass
Brian Cass was left with a three-inch head wound
Mr Cass was set upon by three people armed with pickaxe handles outside his home in February, the court heard.

His company, which carries out cancer and other medical research on animals, has been the focus of a series of protests.

Karim Khalil, prosecuting, said: "He has lived in fear of personal violence against himself since this campaign began."

He said a neighbour who came to the aid of Mr Cass and gave chase was sprayed with CS gas.

Three people swung clubs in a vicious assault and beat him up

Karim Khalil

Mr Khalil said DNA from the pickaxe handles and clothes led to the arrest of Blenkinsop who has a previous conviction for violence and assault.

He described the assault on Mr Cass as "the culmination of planning and the execution of a deliberate physical attack".

After the attack, Mr Cass said: "I am not going to give in to these intimidating tactics even if they do extend into this sort of violence."

He added: "I feel angry that there are people who pretend to be concerned about animals but then they go and attack someone in this sort of manner. It is totally hypocritical and cowardly."

Attackers pursued

A police spokesman said the file would remain open and they would continue to investigate the attack on Mr Cass.

The case against another man charged with conspiring to cause grievous bodily harm was dismissed. HLS has been given a bank account by the government after commercial banks decided they would not provide facilities because of threats from extremists.

In January, the government gave Cambridgeshire Police a 1m grant to meet the cost of covering demonstrations outside Huntingdon Life Sciences.

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