Animal rights protester broke into animal houses to film conditions on farms in Suffolk and Essex, court hears
A teenage animal rights protester who broke into chicken houses at three farms in Suffolk and Essex to film living conditions has been ordered to do unpaid work in the community.
Sebastian Brown broke the locks to chicken houses at a farm in Little Totham in Essex as well as two in north Suffolk and also damaged some CCTV cameras, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Sentencing Brown, Judge Rupert Overbury said: “You pleaded guilty to these three offences committed by you in the mistaken belief as a 17-year-old that you were acting for the greater good. You have a passion and you are perfectly entitled to express your views about animal welfare but what you mustn’t do is do it in a criminal way.
“You can protest, you can lobby, you can join action groups to your heart’s content but you can’t break into people’s property and do damage,” said the judge.
Brown, now 18, of Lucas House, Colchester, admitted three offences of criminal damage at Flock Farm, Thorrington near Saxmundham, Bungalow Hill Farm, Brampton, and Hawthorn Farm, Little Totham in September last year.
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Lucas, who was 17 at the time of the offences, was given a three year community order, 240 hours unpaid work and a 30 day rehabilitation order.
He was also made the subject of a three year criminal anti-social behaviour order banning him from loitering near livestock and poultry farms.
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Juliet Donovan, prosecuting, said that following Brown’s visit to Hawthorn Farm it was found a lock on the door to the chicken house had been cut and the wires of seven CCTV cameras had their wires cut and were missing.
The cost of replacing the cameras was more than £4,500.
Brown had returned home at around 4am dressed in dark clothing and holding a video camera and police found a notebook in his bedroom containing the names of farms he had been to and others he was planning to visit.
Brown accepted breaking into farms and taking video footage of animals’ living conditions, which he posted on YouTube, and admitted wearing a balaclava on one occasion.
Miss Donovan said locks were cut with bolt cutters at Flock Farm and Bungalow Hill Farm causing more than £200 damage.
The court heard that Brown had no previous convictions and was a full time student.