Emails left Devizes MP in fear for her safety
8:40am Friday 7th June 2013 in By Anna Mauremootoo, Senior reporter for Marlborough and Pewsey
Devizes MP Claire Perry feared for her own safety and that of her staff after receiving abusive emails from a constituent, magistrates heard on Tuesday.
Unemployed Benjamin Brooke, 42, sent five emails to her office over a period of 11 days asking her to take action on a specific issue that was outside of her jurisdiction, although details of it were not given to Salisbury Magistrates Court.
The first email was sent on May 4 and was described as innocuous and pushy in its nature.
The last email was sent on May 15 and the court heard that in the later emails Brooke, who now lives in Trowbridge but was living at Combe Walk, Devizes at the time, was at his most aggressive, writing things such as: “I’m going to take away your polar bears, I’m going to take away your tigers, I’m going to take away your happiness.”
In his last email Brooke used offensive language and threatened to take matters into his own hands if Mrs Perry did not take action.
Initially the emails were read by the constituency office manager in Devizes, who informed the police of their nature.
In a statement to police, Mrs Perry said the emails caused her to fear for the safety of herself and her staff.
Brooke, who admitted a charge of sending by public communication network an offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing message, has started to see the mental health team in Devizes and is on medication.
Magistrate John Easdon said: “We are glad to hear that you are engaging with the mental health service and also taking the medication that you have been prescribed.
“The court would suggest to you strongly that you continue with this and sincerely hope that you do, because we don’t want to see you here again.”
Brooke said he would continue meeting with the mental health team. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £85 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
After the case, Mrs Perry said: “I’m extremely grateful to Wiltshire Police, who dealt with the situation so swiftly.
“I get thousands of emails from constituents and it’s very rare to get offensive emails, even if we disagree on a matter.
“A tiny handful will be in the malicious category, which can be a bit frightening, and when somebody does cross the line it is right to contact the police.”