EXCLUSIVE: A notorious animal rights activist has been convicted of hurling abuse and threats through a megaphone at staff and punters at Hove dog track.
Sarah Whitehead, also known as Mumsy, was jailed for six years in 2010 for masterminding a terrorist-style campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences.
This week, the 63-year-old was back in court for her part in the weekly protests against the Nevill Road dog track.
Horsham Magistrates Court heard that she had repeatedly shouted abuse through a megaphone at people arriving at the stadium, calling them paedophiles, wankers and retards.
She also yelled threats and insults at the stadium’s then manager, Brian Murphy, including warning him his days are numbered and shouting: “Blow it up!”
And the abuse even continued after she was given a community protection notice in February, preventing her from swearing or saying the words “filthy scum”.
Prosecuting at Wednesday’s hearing, Daniel Sawyer said: “Just because you wear a yellow jacket and stand behind a white placard, that does not give you the right to shout whatever you like.
“It does not give you the right to shout general abuse or indeed threats of bombs.”
Whitehead, of New Town, Uckfield, had been charged with harassing Mr Murphy on 21 December, but this charge was dropped as the trial began because the former manager had said he wasn’t intending on giving evidence.
But the Crown proceeded with the other three charges – two public order offences on 21 December and 18 January and breaching a community protection notice in March by shouting filthy scum through the stadium railings.
The court was played three clips, one from each incident. Even in the recordings, the sound from the chanting was so loud it could be heard in a neighbouring courtroom and had to be turned down.
PC Dave Glenister, who has attended about 30 of the protests in recent months and had heard Whitehead shouting at most if not all of them, identified her as being the woman heard in the December clip shouting abuse at Brian Murphy, during which she shouted “filthy scum” about 30 times.
In the clip, filmed by the dog track’s security, she shouted: “Your days are numbered, Murphy, I’d keep looking over my shoulder I were you.”
She also yelled “Teletubbie, your trousers are falling down.”
In the January clip, filmed by PC Glenister’s body worn camera, he is heard warning Whitehead that she will face a summons if she continues to shout filthy scum.
A few minutes later, when a member of the public approaches the protest to say they are upsetting his daughter, she shouts through a megaphone: “Animals are dying, who gives a shit about your family?”
PC Glenister then informed her she’s being reported for a summons and all the protesters started shouting louder to drown him out.
He told the court: “Animal rights protest are very passionate protests and I do understand that everyone has the right to protest.
“Where do you draw the line as to where a protest stops being a protest and becomes a public order offence?”
In her defence, Whitehead, who the court heard now works as a cleaner for a local school, said she had been going to protest at the dog track most Saturdays since 2018.
She told the court: “We go along at 5.30pm when the punters are lining up outside and we shout at them and hope that some of them will think twice about it.
“There’s no intention to cause offence, it’s about education.”
In cross examination, Mr Sawyer asked: “What are [the punters] to learn when you call them filthy scum?”
She replied: “Exactly that, they are filthy scum to go in there.
“I can guarantee that there’s not one single person who’s offended by that.”
Mr Sawyer asked: “Did you tell people that taking their children there is child abuse?”
Whitehead replied: “I think I probably did because they’re teaching their children that gambling and animal abuse is okay.”
In relation to the community protection notice, Mr Sawyer asked: “You thought that it was utterly ridiculous so you ignored it.”
Whitehead replied: “Yes.”
District judge Claire Evans found her guilty of the public order offence on 21 December and breaching the notice on 7 March – but said that she had not broken the law when she swore and shouted “filthy scum” on 18 January, before the notice was issued.
Of the 21 December protest, she said: “The words that were shouted by her in relation to bombing have no part in relation to the protest.
“It was a general tirade of abuse.
“When she gave her evidence and expressed her views she showed a total disregard for the views of the public.
“There was a complete disconnect between the words she was using and the matter she was protesting about.”
Whitehead was fined £700, ordered to pay £500 costs and a victim surcharge of £120.
The prosecution applied for a criminal behaviour order, and the application will be heard on March 4 next year. An interim order was passed preventing her from going near the stadium during race times.
Whitehead was supported from the public gallery by two members of the electro-goth band Massive Ego, Marc Massive and Oliver Frost, both of whom are also regulars at the protests.
Frost was last month sentenced for a public order offence in connection with the same protest on December 21.
Whitehead hit the headlines ten years ago when she admitted conspiracy to blackmail for her part in the campaign against Huntingdon.
The court heard she had been known as Mumsy by the young animal rights activists with whom she pursued contractors of the Cambridge based animal testing lab.
They posted hoax bombs, made abusive telephone calls and distributed leaflets falsely accusing employees of paedophilia to their neighbours and daubed slogans such as puppy killer and murderer on their homes and cars.
As well as the six year prison sentence, she was also given an Asbo, running for ten years from her release from prison in 2012, preventing her from taking part in protests against animal experimentation.
She successfully had this amended in July last year to only prevent her from protesting against Huntingdon Life Sciences. At the hearing, the judge warned her she was “sailing close to the wind” with her protests at Hove.
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