Three animal rights activists who attacked a 75-year-old grandmother, her daughter and grandson as they drove through Richmond last year were given prison sentences at Kingston Crown Court this week.

Heather Nicholson, Natasha Avery and Daniel Wadham, all from Yateley in Hampshire, admitted attacking the pensioner as she drove along the Lower Richmond Road on the approach to Chalkers Corner at around 9.45am on November 9 last year for displaying a pro-hunting sticker on their car.

Nicholson, 39, and Avery, 38, who are the wife and ex-wife of Greg Avery who founded animal rights pressure group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) of which both are leading members, were given 16-month jail sentences for affray while Wadham, 19, was sentenced to 12 months in a young offenders' institute for the same offence.

The court was told that the daughter, who is in her mid-40s and was known only as Mrs B, became aware of a woman banging on her windscreen as she stopped at traffic lights.

The woman was verbally abusing the driver, calling them "scum" and "perverts" and said: "Get that sticker out of your window," referring to a small Countryside Alliance sticker which read: "Two working dogs, working people, work in hunting", the court heard.

The driver tried to drive when the light turned green but was forced to stop at the next set of traffic lights and the trio opened the passenger door and dragged her 21-year-old son out by his legs, his grandmother, known as Mrs A, tried to stop them, but was hit on the arm.

Quinn Hawkins, prosecuting, said: "Both Nicholson and Wadham spat at the son. The spit landed on his face and on the seat behind. Nicholson tried to grab a basket and the handbags from the back of the car where the grandson prevented them from being taken."

The police arrived soon after and arrested all three for violent disorder and they were taken to Richmond Police station, charged and remanded in custody.

The court heard all three acted in the heat of the moment and regretted their actions.

Sentencing, Judge Nicholas Jones described the behaviour as disgraceful and said: "Families in this country are entitled to travel in peace in their cars without fear of being attacked because of their views."