Businessman faces jail after targeting barristers with fake bombs

Nuttall: Convicted by majority

A wealthy businessman is facing jail after hiring an ex-Royal Marine to plant fake bombs outside the chambers of two barristers who helped confiscate £1.4m from his wife.

Jonathan Nuttall, 50, recruited Michael Broddle, 47, to plant two packages resembling explosive devices at Gray’s Inn on 14 September 2021.

Andrew Sutcliffe KC and Anne Jeavons had both acted for the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the recovery of assets from Ms Nuttall’s wife in 2019 over suspicions of money laundering by the pair.

The former marine set off smoke grenades causing buildings to be evacuated. He filmed himself wearing a white faceless horror mask as he printed out notes addressed to Mr Sutcliffe, which included a vile threat to the barrister’s daughter.

Mr Broddle admitted two counts of placing an article with intent and possession of an explosive substance.

Mr Nuttall and his driver Michael Sode, 59, denied but were convicted of two counts of conspiracy to place an article with intent to induce the belief it would explode or ignite.

It followed a four-month trial at the Old Bailey and 25 hours and 13 minutes of deliberation. Mr Nuttall was found guilty by a majority of 10 to two.

Mr Broddle’s sons, Joshua and Charlie, denied and were cleared of the same charges. Joshua and Mr Sode’s son, George Gray, denied and were cleared of conspiracy to transfer criminal property. But Mr Nuttall and Mr Sode were convicted of the offence.

Mr Nuttall also denied but was convicted of three counts of failing to comply with a notice by failing to disclose the PIN or passcode of phones and devices to police. He was cleared of a further two counts.

Mr Sode denied but was convicted of one count of the same charge and was cleared of another. They had claimed they were unable to remember the codes.

One device was left near a bench on the Gray’s Inn estate while the other was left outside 3 Verulam Buildings. Offices were evacuated, roads cordoned off and 85 police officers were called to inn.

The packages addressed to Mr Sutcliffe were not real explosives and vibrated because a nose and ear trimmer had been placed inside.

Mr Sutcliffe told the court that it was the first time he had been in chambers for six months due to the pandemic and only discovered the following day that the devices had been targeted at him, with a note left by one of them using an old nickname from his time in the army.

The note also made some scandalous accusations about Mr Sutcliffe which were not read out in court. Mr Sutcliffe said he was “totally shocked” by what it said.

Catherine Farrelly, prosecuting, said it was “clear” that Mr Nuttall “harboured a great deal of animosity towards Andrew Sutcliffe and, to a lesser degree, Anne Jeavons, accusing them of behaving in an unprofessional way when conducting the case for the NCA.

“It is clear that Jonathan Nuttall perceived the NCA case as causing him and his family public embarrassment and ruining their reputation and he was not willing to accept that.”

Mr Nuttall had recruited Mr Broddle for a “targeted campaign of intimidation and public embarrassment” against Mr Sutcliffe, said Ms Farrelly. In February 2021, Mr Broddle and his son Joshua went to Yorkshire to conduct surveillance of Mr Sutcliffe’s home.

Ms Farrelly said the “significant attention” that the devices would cause “was designed not only to cause widespread alarm but it was intended to specifically cause him alarm, distress and public and professional embarrassment”.

Mr Sutcliffe and Ms Jeavons both told police they thought Mr Nuttall could be responsible for planting the fake bombs following the “adversarial” case.

Sentencing will take place on a date to be fixed.

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