Six months in prison for animal rights activist from Rugby

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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.

And a judge also ordered that the car Hayley Kent used to harass four livestock drivers should be confiscated.

Kent, 21, of Cambridge Street, Rugby, was jailed for six months and banned from driving for 12 months, after which she will have to take an extended re-test.

She had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of dangerous driving and two of harassment.

Prosecutor Theresa Thorp said that in July last year a livestock lorry driver noticed Kent’s blue Citroen Saxo in a gateway as he left a cattle market in Leicestershire.

But 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 the driver to cross the white lines to avoid it.

She overtook and did the same thing twice more before the lorry driver 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 the lorry driver pulled off the motorway and stopped Kent also pulled up and accused him of being cruel to animals.

There was a similar incident on the M1 in August when Kent sounded her horn and swerved in front of a farmer as he was driving a livestock lorry on the M1.

With her car just two to three feet in front of him, the farmer had to brake hard – and Kent made an offensive gesture towards him as she continued to slow down to just 30mph.

When the farmer 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, and kept him to that speed for two miles.

She then pulled away and stopped in a gateway; and 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 the driver to brake heavily and switching 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, and she was remorseful for what she had done.

Recorder Tom Rochford told Kent: “What you were doing was dangerous, not only because you were driving in front of the drivers, but also because you and your passengers were distracting them so they were not able to pay proper attention.

“It is an aggravating feature that these offences were planned, in that it was something you had done before and decided to do again.

“I note with some concern that 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.”

Ordering the forfeiture of the Saxo, he explained to her: “It was used by you deliberately to commit these offences.”