THE veteran who tried to hijack the Cenotaph is a convicted heroin dealer who forced his disabled wife to sell drugs from her wheelchair, it emerged tonight.
Fatigue-clad Donald Bell, 64, who trampled on wreaths to promote Extinction Rebellion on Remembrance Day, was previously jailed in 2007 for four years.
He was pictured yesterday alongside Buddhist NHS nurse Anne White, 53, as the pair staged the controversial protest which has been slammed by furious veterans and the Prime Minister.
The pair unveiled a banner which read "Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War" and placed it next to the iconic memorial in central London.
They sparked anger among war veterans as their climate change banners were unveiled just hours before the official Armistice Day ceremony.
Bell, who served in four tours in Northern Ireland, led the protest and laid a wreath of poppies with the message "Act Now" written on it at 8am.
It's now emerged that he was previously jailed after he hid drugs under arthritis-sufferer wife Heather’s blanket while he pushed the then 51-year-old around in her wheelchair.
They were caught when they tried to sell wraps of heroin to undercover cops, a court heard.
As Heather was sentenced in 2008, Cambridge Crown Court heard Mrs Bell was a victim of domestic violence, sucked into drug-dealing by ex Bell in return for his care for her.
Relatives told how now-widowed former infantry private Bell was a long-term cannabis user, who “brought shame on the family”.
One family member told the MailOnline: “He and his wife Heather were always smoking weed, long before she was consigned to a wheelchair with rheumatoid arthritis.
“Personally, I think the drugs fried his brain.
“None of the family agrees with his XR antics, but at least these days I think he's managed to kick the drugs. None of us have much to do with him any more.”
The relative added: “I don't think the bit about domestic abuse that was mentioned in court was true.
"I think that was Heather trying to paint herself as the victim, as they were both heavily into drugs long before she got ill.”
Bell, who reportedly survived a car bomb in Northern Ireland in 1974, said after his Whitehall protest on Wednesday that he wanted to highlight how climate change could cause more wars.
The PM slammed the stunt, and his official spokesman said: “The Cenotaph is memorial to those who fought and died to preserve all our freedoms.
"Today of all days, when we join together to pay tribute to our war dead, this action was profoundly disrespectful."
Bell appeared on Good Morning Britain to defend the stunt – but risked further fury when he referred to remembrance as a "little ritual".
He said: "Those soldiers gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, for our futures so that we could live in peace.
"And when we have a Government that's ignoring this climate emergency that we're in, their inaction is a crime.
"When they turn up there every year for their little ritual, that is a sign of disrespect as far as I'm concerned."
You've made yourself look like a bit of a fool.
But ex-Royal Marine Ben McBean, who fought in Afghanistan, hit out at the protester during an appearance on the show.
Mr McBean, a double amputee, said: "There are 365 days in a year, and there are plenty of days that you could have done this on.
"There are two days when you don't do this kind of c**p.
"One day is Christmas, and one day is Remembrance Day.
"Remembrance Day is essentially a national funeral. The whole country mourns.
"You've made yourself look like a bit of a fool."
At his wife’s sentencing in 2008, Duncan O'Donnell, prosecuting, said: “It would appear the modus operandi was that Heather Bell would store the heroin to be supplied underneath her blanket.”
She had answered some of the phone calls when the undercover police put in orders for heroin as part of a sting operation and was using the drug herself, the court heard.
Mrs Bell admitted three charges of involvement in the sale of drugs to test purchase officers in the city centre in summer 2007.
She was jailed for 12 months, and has since died.
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