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Julia Didrikson jailed for five months

28 September 2007,

An animal rights campaigner who sent threatening emails to staff at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) has been jailed for five months.

Julia Didrikson, 43, sent malicious emails to the Cambridgeshire research centre as well as to multinational firms contracted to the company.

Didrikson, of Poole, Dorset, pleaded guilty to six charges of intimidating people connected with animal research.

She was sentenced after a hearing at Peterborough Crown Court.

The court heard that some of the emails, sent over a three week period in March and April this year, threatened the children of staff and warned workers they would be killed.

'Vile' messages

Didrikson, of Pimpern Close, Poole, made no attempt to hide her email address from the messages, described by the judge as "vile".

Jailing her, Judge Nicholas Coleman said: "Whilst people do have well-held beliefs they are not entitled to conduct themselves in this way.

"The language was clearly designed to instill fear. The recipients plainly felt fearful."

Emails written to HLS included: "Your lives will be at risk every time you go to your cars after your days at the torture house."

Didrikson was jailed under the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which was brought in by the government to protect companies such as HLS from animal extremists.

'Vulnerable woman'

She asked for another 19 similar offences to be taken into consideration, including writing malicious letters to companies linked to HLS.

Didrikson was never a member of any organised animal rights group and was influenced by websites she visited when she was left alone after her Norwegian husband had to leave the UK.

Jeffrey Norrie-Miller, mitigating, said Didrikson was a lonely and vulnerable woman sparked into caring for all living things after suffering two miscarriages.

Det Con Tim Warren, of Cambridgeshire Police, said Didrikson was the first person in the country to be convicted under the new legislation.

He said: "Everyone is entitled to conduct lawful business at work and to work alongside other organisations without the fear of disruption and intimidation."

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