Jail for businessman who targeted barristers with fake bombs

Nuttall: Vendetta against barristers

The businessman who hired an ex-Royal Marine to plant fake bombs outside the chambers of two barristers against whom he had a vendetta has been jailed for eight years and two months.

Judge Simon Mayo KC accused Jonathan Nuttall of “a malicious, bold and extremely serious attack on those involved in the administration of justice”.

Mr 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 £1.4m from Ms Nuttall’s wife in 2019 over suspicions of money laundering by the pair and in subsequent hearings.

Following the convictions last month, Mr Broddle was jailed for seven years and Mr Nuttall’s driver, Michael Sode, 59, for six years and six months.

The judge described the fake bombs as “a concerted effort to interfere with the administration of justice by targeting two members of the bar who were instructed on behalf of the NCA to prosecute Nuttall and his wife in civil recovery proceedings.

“Furthermore, the fact that the leaving of the devices was committed against the background of a campaign of surveillance and intended intimidation of those barristers make the offending all the more serious.

“The objective of your offending was truly exceptional. In my judgement, your purpose was to derail, or at least seriously disrupt, those proceedings by intimidating the two barristers involved.”

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 Nuttall and Mr Sode denied but were convicted of two counts of conspiracy to place an article with intent to induce the belief it would explode or ignite. They were also found guilty of conspiracy to transfer criminal property.

Mr Nuttall was further 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. Mr Sode was convicted of one count of the same charge.

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

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.

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

Mr Nuttall’s barrister, George Carter-Stephenson KC, told the court that he had not intended to undermine the justice system and simply had a vendetta against Mr Sutcliffe and Ms Jeavons.

In a victim impact statement read to court, Mr Sutcliffe said he was “deeply distressed and shocked” by what had happened – and what had been planned with the threats to his family.

“The court will be able to imagine the profound impact the defendant’s vendetta against me has had upon me and my family. The defendants have achieved what they set out to achieve to disrupt the NCA proceedings.

“It is self-evident that wasted time and costs will have resulted from the change of counsel before trial. I am not aware of counsel ever being targeted in this way before in order to disrupt legal proceedings in the UK.”

In her impact statement, Ms Jeavons said: “It seems to me Mr Nuttall needed a target to focus his frustration and became obsessed with the idea that removing Mr Sutcliffe and me from the case was the solution.

“But we are not the reason these for proceedings and those will continue without us with a new counsel team who will also be simply doing their job. His actions have been malicious and vitriolic and the impact on me and my family has been significant…

“I have been left angry and shaken – angry at the lies intended to undermine my personal and professional life, angry at the threats to my family, angry at the arrogance and contempt displayed by Mr Nuttall to the legal process.

“I remain worried about what further vengeful acts he might pursue in the future.”

Salma Malali, representing Mr Broddle, said: “In financial difficulties he made some bad choices. ‘What he wanted me to convey is how genuinely sorry he is to the staff at Gray’s Inn, those at 3VB, Andrew Sutcliffe, KC, Anne Jeavons and his children. He wants to be a better man.”

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