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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Lab mice plot man could be jailed
An animal rights activist was warned he faces jail after being found guilty of organising a raid on a laboratory that saw hundreds of mice stolen.

Keith Mann, 38, of Buckland Road, Poole, Dorset, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle Wickham Laboratories in Wickham, Hampshire.

Melvyn Glintenkamp, 42, of North Drive, New Milton, Hampshire, was also found guilty of conspiracy to burgle.

They were both released on conditional bail until sentencing on 29 April.

However sincere one's beliefs may be and however important one may believe the issues to be, this sort of conduct falls foul of the criminal law
Matthew Jewell, prosecuting

The raid on 13 December, 2003, saw 695 mice, along with documentation, stolen.

Following the conviction, Portsmouth Crown Court was told that Mann was sentenced in 1994 to 11 years for offences of arson and possessing explosives in a previous animal rights incident.

Judge Richard Price warned both men that they faced imprisonment.

He said: "The very strong prospect is that you will receive immediate custodial sentences."

The trial heard that Mann believed illegal tests were being carried out at the laboratory.

He admitted being part of the conspiracy but denied dishonesty because he claimed he was acting to prevent an unlawful act taking place.

'Serious offence'

A total of 671 mice, along with their cages, were discovered a few weeks after the burglary in a caravan at Glintenkamp's home.

The trial was told that the mice taken during the burglary were being used as part of tests using botulinum toxin - used in Botox - for a product called Dysport.

Mann believed these tests were illegal because the end product was used for cosmetic purposes abroad.

Animal testing is legal in the UK for medicinal purposes, but not for cosmetic products.

The trial heard that Wickham Laboratories has a government licence to carry out the tests for Dysport which is used in the UK to prevent muscle spasms.

Matthew Jewell, prosecuting, said that Mann had received information which led him to believe that tests were being carried out illegally at Wickham Laboratories.

Mr Jewell said: "However sincere one's beliefs may be and however important one may believe the issues to be, this sort of conduct falls foul of the criminal law."

Det Sgt Gary Towse, who led the police investigation, said after the verdicts: "I am obviously very pleased with the results which just emphasise that there are lawful ways to campaign and this was treated as a very serious offence."

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