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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 14:41 GMT
Grave-theft case sentences upheld
Gladys Hammond
Gladys Hammond's body was taken from a grave in October 2004
Three animal rights activists jailed for waging a terror campaign against a family have had their sentences upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The Hall family in Staffordshire were targeted by activists who aimed to stop them breeding guinea pigs for research.

Jon Ablewhite, 36, of Manchester, Kerry Whitburn, 36, and John Smith, 39, both of the West Midlands, were jailed for 12 years for conspiracy to blackmail.

The campaign included digging up a grandmother's grave.

We can see no way in which this judge could properly have reduced the sentence more than he did
Lord Justice Latham

The body of Gladys Hammond, the mother-in-law of one of the Hall brothers, was taken from her grave in Yoxall in October 2004.

It was recovered in August 2006 after Smith, of Leicester Street, Wolverhampton, gave police the location.

Whitburn's address is given as Summer Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Rejecting an appeal against the sentence on Thursday, appeal judges said: "There is no doubt the campaign was one which was terrifying to those who were subjected to it."

Lord Justice Latham said it was a "truly wicked" campaign and added the three were fortunate they only faced one count on the indictment.

'Serious effects'

He said the three did not have much in the way of mitigation and that they all had previous convictions for the same sort of activities.

"Against the background of the length of this campaign, the seriousness of its effects on the victims and those previous convictions, we can see no way in which this judge could properly have reduced the sentence more than he did," he said.

The activists targeted David Hall and Partners, a family business which ran the breeding programme at a farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire.

The campaign included protests outside Darley Oaks Farm, a burglary in which 600 guinea pigs were freed and threats to family members, friends and employees.

A fourth person, Josephine Mayo, 38, of Edgbaston, Birmingham, was jailed for four years. Her sentence was not the subject of Thursday's appeal.




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