Animal rights campaigner Mel Broughton, above, has told jurors he understands why people break the law for animals – but insisted he no longer did so.

The 49-year-old, of Semilong Road, Northampton, denies conspiracy to commit arson and an alternative charge of possession of an article with intent to destroy property.

Unexploded bombs were found at Templeton College, Oxford, in 2007 and a device caused almost £14,000 of damage to The Queen’s College’s cricket pavilion in 2006.

The court heard Broughton was jailed in 1999 after being found with a bomb in his car, but he told jurors yesterday he had matured and become too well known by police to be behind any further offences.

He said: “I understand why people take direct action for animals... my sympathy is with sentient beings rather than bricks and mortar.”

The trial continues.