Businessman found guilty of targeting barristers with fake bombs

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By Emily Hinkley on

Devices left outside 3VB in Gray’s Inn

Gray’s Inn – image via WikiCommons/Chensiyuan

A wealthy businessman has been convicted of conspiring to plant fake explosive devices in the heart of legal London.

Jonathan Nuttall was behind a scheme which saw two fake explosive devices placed near barristers’ chambers 3 Verulam Buildings (3VB) in Gray’s Inn.

The plot came after Andrew Sutcliffe KC and Anne Jeavons, both of whom are 3VB tenants, acted on behalf of the National Crime Agency (NCA) in a case against Nuttall which resulted in the confiscation of more than a million pounds from his wife, Amanda Nuttall, in 2019.

When the NCA’s efforts to recoup the cash put Nuttall’s stately home at risk, he is said to have become upset and planned the fake bomb plot with his driver, Michael Sode, and former Royal Marine Michael Broddle.

On 14 September 2021, one fake explosive device was left outside Sutcliffe and Jeavons’ chambers while the other was left close to a bench. Both were placed inside envelopes bearing Sutcliffe’s old Army nickname “Sooty” and contained false allegations against him. Smoke grenades were set off next to the devices to cause maximum alarm.

Sode was found guilty alongside Nuttall of two charges of conspiring with Broddle to place an article with intent.

Broddle had previously admitted to two counts of placing an article with the intention of inducing a belief it would explode or ignite and possession of an explosive substance but did not name who he was working for.

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Broddle’s sons Charlie, 18, Joshua, 21, and George Gray, 25, were also accused of being involved but were acquitted after a 25-hour jury deliberation.

Nutall, Broddle and Sode were convicted of conspiring to transfer criminal property, Nuttall was convicted of two charges of failing to comply with a notice and Sode was found guilty of one similar charge.

The trio are due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 22 September.

Sutcliffe and Jeavons are members of 3VB, a leading commercial set, with particular strengths in banking, financial services, commercial dispute resolution and civil fraud. Sutcliffe specialises in banking and financial services and was called to the bar in 1983. He took silk in 2001. Jeavons, meanwhile, spent time as a solicitor at Magic Circle law firm Linklaters before pursuing a career as a barrister.

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