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Convicted Animal Rights `Grave Digger` Speaks Out

Four activists from the West Midlands were last week sentenced to a total of 40 years behind bars after pleading guilty to conspiracy to blackmail Newchurch Farm in Staffordshire, where guinea pigs were bred before being sent off to their deaths in labs across Europe. Despite the guilty pleas, all four deny any involvement in the infamous `grave robbery` of Gladys Hammond`s remains, and the police have admitted that they don't have any evidence to link any of them directly to that offence. But that didn't stop the judge passing sentence as if there were absolutely no doubt!! The following statement by our good friend Jonny Ablewhite, one of the alleged `grave diggers`, was mostly written prior to his sentencing, and part written just after. It reveals much about how the Newchurch Four have effectively been stitched up!!



Just a few notes to clarify my current predicament. They haven't cut our throats yet!

The Judge's indication of 12 years was based upon information presented to him by the police and the CPS only. This was given in the form of a case summary and a "schedule" of events-a chronological diary of every 'criminal' action beginning with the 1999 liberation. By inference I was tenuously implicated in virtually every action - to the point where it became tiresome to read my name, yet again! Such inference was often so transparent as to be laughable e.g identified as "main protestor" (whatever that means - tallest? baldest?) at demos and therefore held responsible for damage done there 2 months later. This specious information would have been presented to the Jury and the inference it stirred up would have led to a guilty verdict - if I had chosen to go to trial. This is what my legal team insisted. This "schedule" (and the gamut of inferences it encouraged) were of course a massive and engineered untruth. But, let's not kid ourselves; the truth was absolutely irrelevant in this case. My mitigation on May 11th could go someway to stratify the case against me but I fear the Judge has already chosen to believe the vast wave of untruths.

I cannot stress enough how important such 'inferences' are in cases of this ilk. They act as mortar and turn unconnected, nonsensical, irrelevant, inconclusive and flimsy circumstantial suggestion into seeming forensic proof! Combine 'inference' with the outrageous change in the preconviction disclosure law, throw in masses of media-circus supposition and lies and inconsequential inference can - and clearly has - led to lengthy prison sentences. It is a travesty but a grim reality we must all heed. If I wasn't about to spend umpteen years in jail, I would be in cynical hysterics!

It was made absolutely clear to me by my barrister that if I didn't comply with a guilty plea then I would receive the maximum 14 years after trial, irrespective of the truth. The CPS had "bottlenecked" so much "evidence" during the preceding 6 months and finally released it to create deliberate time limitations. Ultimately after the Judge's heinous indication, I was given one hour to consider my fate. The only logic my Barrister could provide was that a guilty plea would spare me the full 14 years. Any attempt to vindicate my case through a trial was considered by him a hopeless task. My only hope then was that a guilty plea with a "Basis of Plea" would leave me with some vindication. Yet the 'Basis of Plea' was rejected by the CPS, deliberately.

A "Basis of Plea" is an opportunity to outline the parameter of your "guilt" and you should be sentenced and judged accordingly. It would have restored dignity, halted the scapegoating process and detached me from being effectively sentenced for a whole host of actions I was clearly not responsible for, including the desecration.

This, however, would not have served the purposes of the Staffordshire police and the CPS. They would not have been able to conjure up and feed information about an all-encompassing "conspiracy" of mythological proportions to a salivating, voyeuristic and hysterical mass media. They know that such hysteria will off-set recent disasters involving animal tested medication.

So much of this has been purposeful. Here's why. The labeling and stereotyping of individuals as "leaders" of 'organized criminal networks' is a contrived political and semantic tool. It can be used to justify such 'umbrella' conspiracy charges and outrageous sentences. It can also be used to 'infer' that these "leaders" are representative of the entire animal rights protest culture - by demonizing one, you demonize all. Compassionate protest and moral aims and arguments are then marginalized by the mass media from the public will and sentiment. This portrayal is then used to convince the public that all political and moral indignation is the habit of such 'extremist' networks. The public can then be cajoled and dissuaded from speaking out or protesting themselves for fear of being similarly demonized. It is tacit but tactical indoctrination. How WE disrupt, interrupt and destabilize this process will be fundamental to our future success as moral activists within a mediascape of stereotypes and scaremongering.

None of the police involved in the inordinately expensive police operations in Newchurch would admit the reality that there was NEVER an SNGP leadership hierarchy dictating and controlling "criminality". Scattered bands of non-hierarchical, decentered, autonomous individuals clearly functions outside of their own operational experience and logic. To admit this reality - that I cannot be held responsible for six years of action would be to admit that there remains an untold sum of "unsolved crimes" in that area. This is despite the millions of pounds of tax payers money ploughed into their investigations. To admit that reality - that I was not the "controller" of "criminal activity" - would have deeply affected their case, their pride, their media intentions and their promotional opportunities. It would also mean such lengthy prison terms are wholly unjustifiable.

Yet the prospect of a long term sentence is clearly now a reality. But, of course, I have always used the true terror and pain of tortured animals as a comparative tool to measure how much I should complain - NOT MUCH! I am well fed (thanks to the VPSG) and the visits and letters from family, friends, Earth and Animal Rights activists have been inspirational. Thank you for your time and support.

It is clear how Judge Pert had absolutely no interest in reality. All credit and all mitigation was ignored. The fact We categorically stated we had no involvement in the grave desecration was ignored. The appeals we made which led to the resolution were ignored and all facts about animal experimentation again were ignored.
March 16th 2005 is still relevant. We were in preparation to put up a symbolic banner concerning the Exclusion Zone granted by the injunction. That can be proven. To suggest otherwise was clearly a convenient lie.
It is obvious Judge Pert's concluding speech was previously prepared and paid absolutely no heed to ANY of the mitigating circumstances.
Of course this court fiasco was a publicity stunt for baying media mob. Of course their whole legal fiasco has been manufactured. And of course we will appeal the Judge's decision!

Thank you to all those who attended court and gave us the strength of many. You're all fekin' fantastic!


Jon Ablewhite (TB4885)
HMP Nottingham,
Perry Road,