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Huntingdon Life Sciences terror plot couple sentenced

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A husband and wife have been sentenced for their part in a terror campaign against an animal testing company.Sven Van Hasselt, 31, helped to fire bomb vehicles belonging to workers linked to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), Winchester Crown Court heard.He was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to blackmail.His wife, Natasha Simpkins, 30, who admitted the same charge, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.The pair were members of Hampshire-based Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).The group was involved in an “intensive criminal campaign in Europe” in 2008 and 2009 targeting suppliers of the Cambridgeshire-based HLS, the court heard.The attacks, in France, Switzerland and Germany, included paint stripper being poured on vehicles and graffiti left at employees’ homes warning: “Drop HLS or you will be dead.”Mink farm attackMichael Bowes QC, prosecuting, said: “The criminal acts perpetrated in Europe involved an escalation in seriousness by the use of real incendiary devices resulting in arson attacks and a grave desecration.”He said Simpkins took part in one attack in Dusseldorf, Germany, and helped SHAC to communicate with blackmail target Novartis, a supplier of HLS.Mr Bowes said she worked alongside former soldier Debbie Vincent, who was jailed for six years in 2014 for her part in the conspiracy.A further seven SHAC members, who were based in Hampshire, were jailed in 2009.Van Hasselt and Simpkins, who have been recently living in Bournemouth, were extradited from the Netherlands after being tried there for their part in a liberation attack on a mink farm which set loose 5,000 animals, the court heard.Adrian Waterman QC, defending Van Hasselt, said that he suffered from Asperger syndrome and was a “troubled soul”.Mr Waterman added: “He regrets it and cannot fathom how on Earth he came to be involved.”
Source: BBC Cambs