A 17-year-old animal rights protester from Mill Hill has been landed with a criminal record after throwing a tea bag at a scientist.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been standing outside the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill (NIMR) over the last two years as part of a peaceful protest.

She was arrested on August 5 on charges including criminal damage, assault, interfering with motor vehicles, aggravated trespass and harassment, and causing alarm and distress.

She will now have to report to a youth offending team for the next nine months, doing community work and learning about victim awareness.

"I think it's a bit ridiculous," she said. "There are a lot of elderly people where I live and they say their handbags have been stolen many times and they have never seen a policeman, but they brought two vans and a police car to arrest me."

She pleaded guilty to the nine charges but is concerned about the repercussions of having been in court.

"I just believe in keeping the peace. I don't throw tea bags every week. But if anyone saw my record, they would think I was a yob. Also, anyone looking outside our house when I was arrested might have thought we are terrorists."

An impassioned animal rights campaigner, she follows the maxim ‘do as you would be done by’, and feels that violent protest is as wrong as the very research on animals which she hates.

On Friday, September 12, Barnet Youth Court heard that she threw tea over a research scientist cycling past her and flicked a tea bag onto the windscreen of a car, scaring the cyclist and alarming the driver.

"The tea bag was a bit of an accident. We never get violent, that was the limit," the girl said.

Making a nine-month referral order, Magistrate Rosalind Davie said: "We have given you full credit for a guilty plea. We find, though, that the victims must have been very frightened by your actions, and the length of the order reflects the concern we have for the victims."

In addition, the young activist was asked to write letters of apology to those affected by her protests. She was also ordered to pay £30 compensation to the cyclist and £50 court costs.

She said she will continue to protest outside the NIMR every Wednesday evening.