Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Jury discharged in fire bomb case

Mel Broughton
Mel Broughton denied conspiracy to commit arson

The jury in the trial of an animal rights campaigner accused of fire bombing Oxford University colleges has been discharged.

Mel Broughton, 48, of Semilong Road in Northampton, had denied targeting Queen's College with explosives.

The jury was unable to reach verdicts on charges of conspiracy to commit arson and possession of articles with intent to destroy property.

He was cleared of keeping an explosive substance with intent.

The jury was discharged by Judge Patrick Eccles QC but Mr Broughton will remain in custody until a further hearing.

Two improvised devices, constructed with fuel and a fuse made from sparklers, exploded at Queen's College sports pavilion in November 2006, causing damage put at 14,000.

Two similar bombs were left underneath a portable building used as an office at Templeton College in February last year, but failed to go off.

The jury had been told that a DNA sample found on a match used as part of the fuse in one of the failed devices was almost certainly from Mr Broughton.

The accused told the court he was involved in organising legal demonstrations against the laboratory in South Parks Road and understood why people got involved in taking direct action in support of animal rights.

But he denied having anything to do with the devices at the colleges.

It is expected that Mr Broughton will face a retrial which is expected to take place next year.

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