Animal-activist rejects plea offer

Published in the Home News Tribune 2/01/03
By CRISSA SHOEMAKER
GANNETT NEW JERSEY

A British animal-rights activist arrested in December after crossing protest lines rejected another plea offer yesterday that could have sent him home.

Robin Louis Webb, 58, the British press officer for the militant Animal Liberation Front, will instead go to trial as early as April on a contempt charge.

Assistant Prosecutor Laurie Head-Melillo said Webb would be allowed to plead guilty to a Municipal Court offense and be sentenced immediately so he could return home to England. Webb has been ordered to surrender his passport and remain in the United States until the charges against him are resolved.

But Webb's attorney, Bill Strazza, told state Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman that he would not accept the offer. Strazza also said he filed papers asking Coleman to dismiss the indictment against his client.

Police said Webb became the 51st person in a protest zone limited to 50 people on Dec. 1 when he crossed through private property outside Huntingdon Life Sciences in the East Millstone section of Franklin.

Webb, however, contends that someone had been turned away from the group, making him the 50th person to join.

© copyright 2003 Gannett News Service