Animal rights extremist banned from roads around Hove dog track

Posted On 20 Jul 2021 at 5:15 pm

An animal rights extremist has been banned from going near Hove Dog Track – but can still protest outside the University of Brighton.

Sarah Whitehead, 63, previously waged a terrorist-style campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences, posting hoax bombs, making abusive telephone calls and circulating leaflets falsely accusing employees of paedophilia to their neighbours.

Today, Brighton Magistrates Court heard she is now recruiting people to protest against the university’s animal research – and police fear this may also escalate.

Last December, she was convicted of shouting abuse through a megaphone at punters and staff, calling them paedophiles, wankers and retards during weekly protests outside the stadium in Nevill Road.

Sarah Whitehead in October 2020

Since April last year, she has been holding monthly protests outside the university’s Falmer campus – and police fear she may “ratchet up” her protests once again.

Today, district judge Amanda Kelly granted Sussex Police’s application for a criminal behaviour order – but knocked back their request for it to cover most of Brighton and Hove.

Instead, Whitehead, of New Town, Uckfield, is banned from entering a handful of roads around the dog track.

Ms Kelly said: “It’s well recognised in the law of this land that people do have a right to protest and that right is quite rightly afforded quite significant protection in law.

“But on the other hand, people don’t have the right to break the law and harass people. I have to consider Miss Whitehead specifically and her history.”

She noted that Whitehead has been “absolutely devoted” to the animal rights cause for many years, and that on many occasions she stepped over the line of peaceful protest and into serious offending.

She said she appreciated the police were concerned the behaviour could escalate again, particularly at the university – but since 2005, the only criminal offending was relatively low level had focused solely on the dog track.

She also turned down a request to ban Whitehead from using insulting or threatening language, as those terms are not easily defined in the context of protest.

Prosecuting, Christopher Pix said: “This is an individual who has a history of starting at a low level then ratcheting it up and ratcheting supporters up and going far past the point of legitimate protest.

“The court should proceed with a proper degree of caution and circumspection and it’s a wide thing that we ask the court to do but there are good reasons for the court in this instance, with this individual to make these conditions.”

Defending, Tom Copeland said: “This order is an attempt to stop Miss Whitehead from protesting in Brighton.

“For those reasons the defence say the application is unreasonable.

“They are seeking to banish her from the entire area and they see her as a nuisance as a result of her protests.”

He said that since the incidents at Hove Dog Track, she had not overstepped the mark, and was currently engaging with The Argus, which today ran a story about her petition against animal testing at the university.

In 2010, Whitehead, also known as Mumsy, was jailed for six years for the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences. 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 2019 to only prevent her from protesting against Huntingdon Life Sciences.

At that hearing, the judge warned her she was “sailing close to the wind” with her protests at Hove.

Just a few months later, in December 2019 and January 2020, she was arrested for public order offences. In February she was given a criminal behaviour order (CBO) preventing her using the words “filthy scum”, which she then breached the following month.

She yelled threats and insults at the stadium’s then manager, Brian Murphy, including warning him his days are numbered and shouting: “Blow it up!”

The abuse, shouted through megaphones, happened every week for several months.

At her trial at Horsham Magistrates in December, she said the protests were intended to educate punters about the conditions dogs were kept in – but on cross examination, she said she was teaching them that they were “filthy scum” and “child abusers”.

Whitehead 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.

She was found guilty of the public order offences and CBO breach and fined £700, ordered to pay £500 costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

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