ANIMAL researcher Dr Max Headley drove around Bristol for two days

with a sophisticated but faulty car bomb underneath his vehicle, police

disclosed yesterday.

The box-like device was first spotted under his car last Wednesday

morning by a neighbour who initially thought it was a car attachment, a

spokesman added.

It was only on Sunday when the bomb fell off that it exploded in the

roadway, ripping apart the vehicle and injuring a 13-month-old boy, who

was on the pavement in his pushchair, Detective Superintendent Peter

Beardon said in Bristol yesterday.

Dr Headley, 43, a Bristol University animal researcher, leapt to

safety from his shattered car after the bomb exploded two or three feet

away from the handbrake mounting. It was attached by a magnet but had

become dislodged.

Detectives believe it was planted at the same time -- last Tuesday

night or Wednesday morning -- as a bomb which destroyed the jeep of

veterinary surgeon Mrs Margaret Baskerville. She jumped to safety when

the device went off last Wednesday as she was driving off from her

village home at Winterslow, near Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Mrs Baskerville, who works in the Government research establishment at

Porton Down, near Salisbury, escaped serious injury.

Animal rights fanatics are suspected of being responsible for both


Mr Beardon said that Dr Headley drove his car in and around Bristol on

Wednesday and Thursday. However, he did not use it again until the

Sunday morning, when the bomb exploded as he drove up Cotham Road

towards Bristol University.

Mr Beardon said: ''If this bomb had gone off at 8.30am outside a city

school we could have had an horrific incident. If it was intended to go

off on Wednesday many, many people could have been injured.

The detectives gave details of the device as police carried out a

reconstruction with a similar car near the doctor's home at Edgecumbe

Road, Redland -- about a mile from the blast scene.

They were hoping the reconstruction would jog the public's memory

about the parked vehicle, registration F735 JKK, and improve the slow

response to their appeals for help.

Mr Beardon added: ''We are fairly certain that the device was placed

on the car on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. It would match up to

the Wiltshire offence, also placed on the vehicle that night. We are

desperate for anyone who saw anything suspicious at all at that time to

come forward.''

Mr Beardon showed reporters a large blue metal cash box and said

security guard Jason Fleetwood, 22, a near neighbour of the doctor, had

identified it as being similar to the device he had seen under the car.

He told the police of his suspicions on Saturday, but they failed to

speak to Dr Headley and did not know he was an animal researcher.

Detectives have admitted that they blundered in failing to follow up

Mr Fleetwood's information more fully and promptly.

The deputy chief constable for Avon and Somerset, Mr John Harland,

said that he had apologised personally to Dr Headley and to Mr Jim

Cupper and his wife Sarah, whose son John was hit by flying shrapnel.

The device was likely to have contained plastic explosive, a large

battery, a timer device and a tilt switch, said Mr Beardon.

It was likely to have been attached by a heavy-duty magnet of a type

used by divers. It could have been fitted in seconds, he said. However,

for some reason, a connection had not been made and the device failed to

go off initially.

Dr Headley told detectives that he heard a ''rumbling'' seconds before

the explosion. Police later found an imprint of a container on the road

surface near the car. ''It is probably because the box fell off that his

life was saved, probably going off two to three feet behind him.''

It was a sophisticated device and showed the lengths that people, who

claimed to be interested in animals, were prepared to go to kill, said

Mr Beardon.

Eight animal rights and welfare pressure groups united yesterday to

condemn the two recent attacks by extremists.

The groups, including the RSPCA, Animal Aid and the League Against

Cruel Sports, urged people ''to help us catch the fanatics who are

discrediting our hard work''.