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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Animal lovers who turned to crime
Police forensic experts examine Gladys Hammond's body found at Cannock Chase
Gladys Hammond's body was found at Cannock Chase on 2 May
Four animal rights activists have been jailed for conspiracy to blackmail the owners of a farm where guinea pigs were bred for medical research.

The four were members of the Save The Newchurch Guinea Pigs (SNGP) group which aimed to shut down David Hall and Partners.

They targeted the Hall family, their employees and associates and, in October 2004, dug up the grave of Gladys Hammond, the mother-in-law of one of the owners.

The BBC News website looks at the background of the four jailed activists who were branded "callous and cold-hearted" by police.

JON ABLEWHITE

Jon Ablewhite
Jon Ablewhite used the aliases John Holmes and Andrew Davidson

Jon Ablewhite, 36, from Levenshulme in Manchester, had previously served a prison sentence for animal rights offences and also used the names John Holmes and Andrew Davidson.

Police investigating the disappearance of Mrs Hammond's body examined an e-mail account Ablewhite had set up using a computer at Wolverhampton City Library in May 2005.

Liaising with the FBI, they used legislation brought in after the 11 September terrorist attacks to explore his e-mail account, where they found he had provided a tips list for other activists on the "ongoing Holocaust" against the Hall family.

Ablewhite ran the SNGP website and acted as the group's media spokesman and Det Ch Insp Baker said of him: "He espoused SNGP's 'lawful' activities by day while carrying out sinister crime by night."

JOHN SMITH

John Smith, 39, of Leicester Street, Wolverhampton, also had previous convictions linked to animal rights extremism.

His criminal past stretched back to 1987 when, under the name John Hughes, he was jailed for three months at Leicester Crown Court for assaulting someone in a fur shop.

Police think he had changed his name from Hughes to Smith in an attempt to hide his criminal past.

After Smith's arrest, files on his computer were also examined by police, who found personal details of the Halls, their families, friends and employees and research around Mrs Hammond, her death and burial.

KERRY WHITBURN

Typewriter found at Whitburn's house
A typewriter and human anatomy information was found by police

Kerry Whitburn, 36, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, has also previously served time in prison for offences linked to animal rights campaigning.

After his arrest in connection with the Gladys Hammond case police found a typewriter, a pack of 50 envelopes, and books of stamps, at Whitburn's home.

Typewritten letters explaining knowledge of the desecration had been sent to the media and associates of the Halls, while examination of hand-written poetry at Whitburn's home showed "strong links" to writing in abusive mail sent to May Hudson, an employee of the Hall family.

Police also found photocopied pages from an anatomy book showing the human skull without the lower jaw - Mrs Hammond's lower jaw was left at the scene when her body was dug up.

JOSEPHINE MAYO

Josephine Mayo
Josephine Mayo was linked to an explosive device left by a house

Josephine Mayo, 37, also from Edgbaston in Birmingham, was the only one of the four defendants not to have previously been in jail for offences linked to animal rights extremism.

She was arrested for her part in the targeting of the Hall family after an explosive device was left on the doorstep of Sally-Ann Hall, the daughter of John Hall, one of the two principal owners of the business.

The device, left outside the house in the middle of the night in March 2005, was a green plastic petrol can with a burning cloth in the nozzle, which police said was capable of exploding and could have caused the death of Miss Hall.

Two days earlier, Mayo, wearing gloves, had bought a green petrol can, from a garage near Cannock, which was the same make, colour and production batch as that left on Miss Hall's doorstep.

An A to Z map book in Mayo's car opened immediately, because of a broken spine, on the page showing the area where Miss Hall lived.





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