‘Bomb like’ devices planted in England’s legal heartland amid £1m court wrangle with a top lawyer
Two bomb-like devices were planted in England’s legal heartland as part of a grudge campaign against a senior lawyer involved in a £1 million legal wrangle, a court has heard.
Andrew Sutcliffe KC was targeted at his chambers in Gray’s Inn in central London as part of a plot to cause him and another lawyer alarm and professional embarrassment, the Old Bailey was told.
Prosecutor Catherine Farrelly said one of the devices designed to look like an explosive was left near a bench.
The other, deposited outside Mr Sutcliffe’s chambers, came with a smoke grenade to ensure “maximum alarm was caused”, jurors heard.
Ms Farrelly told jurors: “These devices were left in both locations with a quite clear objective – to cause serious panic, thereby drawing significant attention.
“The objective was accomplished: buildings were evacuated, roads cordoned off, and a large number of police officers attended the scene.”
She said the devices were not only designed to trigger “widespread alarm” but to cause the senior barrister “alarm, distress and public and professional embarrassment”.
The prosecution allege that 50-year-old businessman Jonathan Nuttall harboured a “deep-seated grudge” against Mr Sutcliffe and had the means to launch such a “bold and targeted strike”.
Nuttall allegedly recruited his driver, Michael Sode, 58, to act as a “middleman” with Michael Broddle, 46, who planted the devices on September 14 2021.
Broddle had in turn roped in sons Charlie, 18, and Joshua, 20, in the scheme, it was claimed.
The background to the case dated back to 2011 when the National Crime Agency (NCA) launched a money-laundering probe into Nuttall and others.
Ms Farrelly said: “In 2015, the NCA had instructed Andrew Sutcliffe to conduct the legal proceedings flowing from that investigation into Jonathan Nuttall and others.
“Later, in 2017, the NCA had instructed a second barrister in Andrew Sutcliffe’s chambers to work alongside him on the case, Anne Jeavons.”
The case had gone on for several years and involved an order in April 2019 for more than £1 million worth of assets being recovered from Nuttall’s wife, Amanda Nuttall, jurors were told.
Faced with the prospect of public embarrassment and reputational ruin, Nuttall directed his animosity towards the two lawyers involved, it was claimed.
Ms Farrelly said there is no dispute that the two devices were planted by Michael Broddle.
Charlie Broddle had allegedly accompanied his father and recorded the arrival of police on his mobile phone as he waited nearby.
Joshua Broddle allegedly met them beforehand and provided packaging for one of the devices.
Ms Farrelly told jurors that, at least six months before the attack on Gray’s Inn, the Broddles had carried out research and surveillance on Mr Sutcliffe and Ms Jeavons.
Dubbed Operation Epic, it was first chapter of a “targeted campaign of intimidation and public embarrassment” waged against the lawyers, it was claimed.
In May 2021, Michael Broddle allegedly made a “to do” list to spend “more time with Sooty’s family and friends” – a reference to Mr Sutcliffe – and “take gifts round” to Ms Jeavons and her family.
On May 19 2021, Sode allegedly travelled to Nuttall’s London address in Sloane Square for a meeting before going on to the Gray’s Inn area.
On the same day, Michael Broddle allegedly went to a property owned by Ms Jeavons, although she did not live there.
Police later recovered a video of a note being printed outside the door.
Michael Broddle allegedly went to Mr Sutcliffe’s home and recorded the trip on his mobile phone.
A video showed a threatening note being printed out from a hand-held printer and left on the buzzer of the house, the court heard.
Addressed to a female relative, it allegedly stated: “Either Sooty QC stops digging his own grave or you will be raped whilst we dig up (another relative’s) grave.”
However, Mr Sutcliffe later confirmed that, to his knowledge, that note had not been found by anyone in his family or any of his neighbours.
Nuttall, of Romsey, Hampshire, Sode, of Deptford, south-east London, and Charlie and Joshua Broddle, from Hounslow, west London, deny two charges of conspiring with Michael Broddle to place an article with intent on or before September 14 2021.
Charlie Broddle denies possession of an explosive substance in relation to one of the devices.
Nuttall, Sode, Michael Broddle, Joshua Broddle and George Gray, 25, of Hounslow, deny conspiring to transfer criminal property.
Nuttall faces six charges and Sode two charges of failure of comply with a notice.
The trial continues
Emily Pennink – Press Association