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By Court Reporter Monday 18 February 2013 Updated: 18/02 16:00
AN ANIMAL rights activist who targeted livestock vehicles by swerving her car in front of them and forcing the drivers to brake sharply has been jailed.
Hayley Kent had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of dangerous driving and two of harassment.
The 21-year-old, of Cambridge Street, was sentenced to six months in prison and given a 12 month driving ban. Her car was also confiscated.
Prosecutor Theresa Thorp said that in July last year, livestock lorry driver Neil Castle noticed Kent’s Citroen Saxo in a gateway as he left a cattle market in Leicestershire.
She then came up behind him as he was doing about 45mph and, at the second attempt, managed to overtake him before pulling in front of him, forcing him to brake sharply.
Kent then pulled into a lay-by with her car protruding into the road, forcing him to cross the white lines to avoid it.
She overtook and did the same thing twice more before Mr Castle reached the M1 where she drove alongside him as her passengers filmed him on a phone and shouted abuse and threats.
Something was thrown at the lorry, and when Mr Castle pulled off the motorway and stopped Kent also pulled up and accused him of being cruel to animals.
There was a similar incident in August when Kent sounded her horn and swerved in front of farmer David Curtis as he was driving a livestock lorry on the M1.
With her car just 2ft in front of him, Mr Curtis had to brake hard – and Kent made an offensive gesture towards him as she continued to slow down to 30mph.
When Mr Curtis tried to switch lanes she did the same, but he managed to shake her off by pulling into the Watford Gap services at the last moment, too late for her to react.
On September 4 Kent pulled alongside a poultry firm’s artic on the A11 in Norfolk, blowing her horn and flashing her lights before swerving in front of it, forcing the driver to slow to 35mph.
She kept him to that speed for two miles and then pulled away and stopped in a gateway. When the driver stopped to challenge her, she called him a ‘murderer of chickens.’
Then on September 19 Kent suddenly pulled in front of a livestock wagon on the M6, forcing driver Colin Wood to brake heavily as she switched lanes in front of him whenever he tried to get past her.
He finally managed to overtake before pulling off the motorway onto the A426 where Kent followed him and overtook his vehicle before going all the way round an island to come up behind him again and follow him to a livestock market.
When she was interviewed following her arrest, Kent said she had been trying to slow the lorries down so the drivers would get into trouble for being late.
Colin Charvill, defending, said: “Her concern in these incidents was for the animals. She would not have done anything she thought would put them in any danger. It was not her intention to put anyone at serious risk.”
He added that since her arrest in October, Kent had disassociated herself from extremists and activist actions, saying she was remorseful for what she had done.
Recorder Tom Rochford told Kent: "I note with some concern you don’t seem to have fully appreciated the danger you were causing. Only a custodial sentence is justified, and it must be an immediate one."
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