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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Letter-bombing caretaker jailed
Miles Cooper
Miles Cooper was found guilty at Oxford Crown Court
A primary school caretaker found guilty of carrying out a letter bomb campaign in which eight people were injured has been given an indeterminate sentence.

Miles Cooper, 27, from Cambridge, sent seven letter bombs to addresses in England and Wales earlier this year, five of which exploded.

Judge Julian Hall said Cooper must serve four years and 149 days before being eligible for parole.

He told Cooper: "You are a terrorist, there can be no mistake."

Cooper did not contest that he sent the letters but denied intending to cause injury.

He told Oxford Crown Court that he had been "concerned about the direction my country was heading in".

He said that his aim was "ultimately to highlight my cause" and denied charges related to the seven letter bombs sent in January and February.

The targets were three forensic science laboratories, a computer company, an accountancy firm, the DVLA and a residential address.

Cause fear

The locations were Abingdon in Oxfordshire; Culham, near Abingdon; Birmingham; Folkestone, in Kent; Victoria in central London; Wokingham in Berkshire; and the DVLA offices in Swansea.

During the four-day trial, Cooper told the jury his anger at the country's authorities had intensified when his father Clive was unable to have DNA samples removed from the police database, even though he had been cleared in 2003 of assault.

"I felt my father had been used and I felt unable to do anything about it," he said.

Cooper had also earlier told the court the letters he sent containing explosive devices were intended to cause fear rather than harm.

They were sent, he added, to organisations he believed were connected to government control, surveillance and monitoring.

Judge Hall told Cooper he would have given him a determinate sentence of 10 years but ruled that he was a danger to the public and, as a result, handed him an indeterminate sentence.

Either what you did was rational, in which case it was evil, or it was irrational which, in my mind, makes it even more frightening
Judge Julian Hall

"First and foremost you are a terrorist, let there be no mistake," the judge insisted.

"Anyone who tries through violence or threat of violence to change the political will is a terrorist and that is precisely what you did.

"Either what you did was rational, in which case it was evil, or it was irrational which, in my mind, makes it even more frightening."

After the sentence was handed out, Cooper's solicitor, Julian Richards, gave a statement on his behalf.

Mr Richards said Cooper "never sought to deny responsibility for sending these devices, he simply maintains that it was never his intention that the recipients should be caused serious harm.

"He would at this stage like to express that he is sincerely sorry that any individuals were harmed by his actions.

"These actions were motivated by, as he perceived it, the government's concerted and ongoing efforts to control its citizens, eroding their civil liberties and hard-won freedom.

"He can't explain why he chose to register his protest to this in such an extreme manner. All he can say is that he felt compelled to, after peaceful methods that he employed were not successful."

'Perverse campaign'

Detective Superintendent George Turner, from Thames Valley Police, said the numerous items found at Cooper's home demonstrated that his arrest had "almost certainly" prevented further attacks.

"He utilised his interests in anarchy, terrorism and explosive devices in support of his political views.

"He carefully researched, prepared, and then sent these devices, taking extensive precautions to avoid detection.

"His victims were innocent people, who went to work to earn a living, and returned home having been mentally or physically scarred, some for life, by his actions."

Paul Harrison from the Crown Prosecution Service said Cooper's indeterminate sentence "reflects the injury, alarm and anxiety" his actions had caused.

He described Cooper's actions as a "perverse campaign against what he saw as intrusive government surveillance.

"But he sent these devices knowing that innocent people would open them, and very likely be injured."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Thames Valley Police statement





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