Peace campaigners tried to put a Brighton factory at the centre of an arms row out of action, a court was told.

Six supporters of the Smash EDO campaign are accused of breaking into the factory, which they claim makes parts for military aircraft used in Israel and Afghanistan, in a bid to “decommission” it.

Hove Crown Court was told the six left a £200,000 trail of damage as they attacked lathes and computer equipment at the EDO MBM factory in Moulsecoomb, Brighton, in the early hours of January 17, last year.

The raiders and three of their supporters outside the factory were arrested but claim they acted lawfully to prevent war crimes being committed in Gaza The break-in happened just days after Israeli war planes bombed Gaza, killing more than 1,000 civilians.

Stephen Shay, prosecuting, said Ornella Saibene, 50, Robert Nicholls, 52, Elijah Smith, 42, Harvey Tadman, 44, and Thomas Woodhead, 25, all from Bristol, smashed a window to get into the factory with Robert Alford, 36, who is not on trial.

Mr Shay added: “All bar Alford gave video-taped interviews before the break-in stating their intent to smash up EDO.

“This footage was posted onto a website known as Indymedia shortly after their arrest.”

Simon Levin, 35, and Christopher Osmond, 29, both of Montpelier Street, Brighton, and Rosa Bellamy, 23, of St Peter's Place, Brighton, were arrested near the factory.

All deny conspiring to damage property between January 13 and January 18, last year.

Mr Shay said CCTV footage showed a group of ten people carrying a ladder to EDO's fence to allow the six raiders to climb into the factory compound.

He told the court that Osmond and Levin were seen filming the attack and that Levin sent 77 texts stating: “EDO's getting trashed, don't know who but I love them”.

Bellamy is alleged to have been in contact by phone with Osmond at the time of the raid and had a number for the Smash EDO press office written on her arm.

Mr Shay said the break-in and damage were publicised on the Smash EDO website shortly afterwards.

In a prepared statement made after her arrest Saibene said: “F16s bombed Palestine. It does not have a defence force.

“The bombings broke humanitarian international law because they were indiscriminate and could not tell civilians from soldiers.

“The action at EDO MBM was taken to decommission parts made there for the F16.”

Nicholls, in his prepared statement, alleged: “I entered EDO MBM in order to decommission it.

“EDO MBM aid and abet war crimes in producing components for weapons. I do not believe I committed any offence.

“I had a lawful excuse and acted out of necessity to prevent a greater crime, particularly the unlawful killing of civilians in Gaza”

Security at Hove Crown Court was stepped up yesterday as the six men and two women went on trial yesterday.

Police patrolled the court as about 50 supporters unfurled banners outside which stated “support the decommissioners” and “shut the arms factory”.

The trial continues.