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University fire bomber convicted

13/02/2009

Mel Broughton, who has been convicted of conspiracy to commit arson and two associated offences, was not a peaceful protestor as he claimed but someone who took an active part in a fire bombing campaign at Oxford University, said Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Paul Harrison.

Mr Harrison, of the CPS Thames and Chiltern Complex Casework Unit, said: "Although Mel Broughton claimed to be merely a spokesperson for the campaign against the building of the Oxford Laboratory and a peaceful protestor and activist, we produced evidence in court to show that he played a far more proactive and sinister role by taking part in a fire bombing campaign."

The case centred on two attempts in 2006 and 2007 to firebomb premises belonging to Oxford University, the first attack extensively damaging the Queen’s College sports pavilion, the second pair of devices failing to ignite after being placed under a temporary building belonging to Templeton College.

Mr Harrison said: "Evidence presented to the jury included Mel Broughton’s inflammatory speeches and his previous conviction for a similar offence, along with his DNA material and fingerprints on the unexploded devices and material associated with them. Police also found a quantity of sparklers, similar to those used as a fuse in the unexploded devices, deliberately concealed at Broughton’s home.

"The attacks were aimed at damaging property rather than people as they were carried out at night, but fire bombs are indiscriminate. As well as causing serious damage to property they also threaten the lives of anybody in the vicinity and particularly those of members of the emergency services who have the task of dealing with the aftermath.

"While our society supports the right to free speech and to campaign peacefully, Mel Broughton went well beyond that by using force against a legitimate academic institution and business in an attempt to further his aims. This prosecution demonstrates that, where there is evidence of criminal behaviour, regardless of the perceived cause, a prosecution will almost certainly follow."

Broughton was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, with a minimum of five years before he is eligible for release on licence.

Ends

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