News and Other Busyness
Ten Years For Animal Rights Activist
Squall 13, Summer 1996, pg. 10.
A DEMONSTRATION will be held on July 31st at the Royal Courts of Justice in London to protest against the ten year prison sentence currently being served by animal rights protestor Dave Callender.
He was sentenced on March 6th for his part in a campaign to plant dummy incendiary devices at targetted establishements and temporarily close down or produce negative publicity about them. These included Thames Valley Eggs and the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket.
Despite the fact that the devices were intended to be entirely non-explosive Dave was charged with conspiracy to commit arson.
The case hung on the possible intent of the campaign he was involved in planning. The Crown’s only expert witness conceded that the materials recovered could be used for hoaxes.
The prosecution objected to several highly credible witnesses Dave called in his defence, on the grounds that their evidence was based on heresay. The judge then refused to admit these testimonies as evidence the jury could rely on in considering Dave’s case. This evidence would have confirmed Dave’s intention to cause no harm or criminal damage.
Kevin Tomlinson, Dave’s solicitor, told Squall that: “the judge ruled that the evidence of these three independent witnesses could not be considered by the jury when deciding whether Dave Callender was guilty or not because it was considered heresay evidence. This decision will be a major ground in the appeal against conviction.”
Bizarrely the jury was allowed to consider this same evidence in deciding the fate of Dave’s co-defendant, Gregg Avery.
Mr Avery was acquitted. He told Squall: “I couldn’t understand it. We were all gobsmacked. It just seemed that these people were damaging witness for the prosecution and they wanted their evidence removed at all costs.”
If evidence is considered heresay it is, presumably, inadmissible full-stop. Nobody could come up with any direct authority in terms of previously decided cases to justify the judge’s decision and as a result the jury convicted Dave and the judge sentenced him to ten years imprisonment on the basis that he intended to plant real incendiary devices not dummy/hoax devices. Why evidence was allowed for one defendant and not the other is a question no-one can answer. Dave and his supporters are demanding a retrial.
Contact: Dave Callender Justice Campaign, PO Box 38, Manchester M60 1NX or write to Dave Callender, HV3314, HMP Birmingham, Winson Gren Road, Birmingham B18 4AS.
Demonstration: Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand. 11.00am July 31st.