Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Thursday, 13 December 2007

Court clears control order nurse

Cerie Bullivant
Cerie Bullivant would not tell the court where he absconded to.

A nurse has been cleared of breaching a control order after going missing for a month in the company of two brothers of a convicted terrorist.

Cerie Bullivant, 25, of Dagenham, Essex, told the Old Bailey he absconded because of anxiety and depression.

It was the first court case involving controversial control orders - designed to be used for terrorism suspects.

Mr Bullivant, who denies any terrorist activity, was served with a new order after the hearing, his lawyer said.

Order challenged

Gareth Pierce said the new control order had stricter conditions, including tagging and a curfew.

However, she said the jury had "done the right thing, morally, legally and factually," by clearing him.

Mr Bullivant begins an appeal against the original control order, which expired earlier this year, at the High Court on Friday.

His lawyers hope that, if it is overturned at the conclusion of the six-day hearing, the new order imposed today will also be quashed.

After Thursday's hearing a Home Office spokesman said: "We are surprised and disappointed with the outcome of Mr Bullivant's trial for breaching the obligations imposed by his control order.

"The Home Office is working with the police to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to minimise any risks that may arise as a result of Mr Bullivant's release from prison."

Mr Bullivant was charged with seven counts of breaching the order after absconding for a month in May with two brothers of fertiliser bomb plotter Anthony Garcia.

Sick mother

Jurors were asked to decide if Mr Bullivant had a "reasonable excuse" to breach his control order.

The order was imposed in 2006, the year after Mr Bullivant had been stopped at airport security while on his way to Syria with Ibrahim Adam. He told the court he had been going there to learn Arabic.

He believed he was stopped because Mr Adam was the brother of convicted terrorist Anthony Garcia.

During the trial, Mr Bullivant said the control order conditions had destroyed his life because they did not allow him to study or attend a work placement and that they were having a "bad effect" on his sick mother, who was suffering from a mental illness.

His relationship with his newly-married wife had also "collapsed" as a result of the restrictions on his movement, he told the court.

Bomb plot link

Mr Bullivant, who was studying for a degree in mental health nursing at South Bank University, described absconding as "probably the worst decision of my life and it was a decision taken in desperation".

However, he refused to tell the court where he had fled to accompanied by Lamine and Ibrahim Adam, the brothers of Anthony Garcia, a convicted terrorist.

He said it was up to the Adam brothers, who are also under control orders and remain on the run, whether they handed themselves in.

Garcia is serving life imprisonment after being found guilty in April of his part in a plot to target the UK with a fertiliser bomb.

Mr Bullivant, who was brought up as a Christian but converted to Islam, told the court he had not left the country, or London, and had stayed at the same place for five weeks before handing himself in June.

Under the terms of his order, he had been required to report daily to police and surrender his passport.



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SEE ALSO
Profile: Cerie Bullivant
13 Dec 07 |  UK
Q&A: Control orders
01 Feb 10 |  UK

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