Cow Disharged: Bomber Innocent
Squall 14, Autumn 1996, pg. 55.
A NEW defence of jesting secured a not guilty verdict for a petrol bomber who endangered the lives of a young family at the Newbury Bypass protest last November.
Dickon Whittaker, 22, the son of a local car dealer, claimed his lighting of a petrol bomb beside a bus containing a sleeping family was a “harmless drunken prank”.
He told Reading Crown Court in August that the “prank” followed a drunken evening during which he consumed 10 pints.
It was a “mystery” how he had come to make petrol bombs, and he had only intended to throw them in the road to scare people, he told the court.
“I was not really in control,” he said. “At the time we thought it was quite amusing.”
His friend, Phillip Allen, 22, admitted the charges and was awaiting sentence at the time of the trial.
The bus contained Jeremy Middleton, 34, his pregnant partner Amanda Rothwell and his six year old son Benjamin.
Mr Middleton said he thought the bombs had been thrown at the bus. He saw a man with a balaclava on his head and drove his bus away as fast as possible.
Whittaker was cleared of attempted arson with intent to destroy property and endanger life by a jury after a two day trial.
A Third Battle of Newbury spokesman said: “If we’d done something similar, which obviously we wouldn’t, then we’d be looking at three years in prison.”
The spokesman added that Whittaker’s father is a “prominent member of society” in Newbury and rumours regarding his acquittal are rife.
MEANWHILE a pantomime cow, arrested for aggravated trespass during the height of the direct action campaign against the Newbury bypass, were conditionally discharged in July.
Both halves of the cow had to pay costs of between £50 and £100.
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