Donald Wood jailed for sending threatening letters to MPs – BBC


A man who sent threatening letters to three Labour MPs before fleeing to Morocco has been jailed for 21 months.
Donald Wood, 84, of Barnsley, sent three handwritten, anonymous letters to the offices of Dan Jarvis, John Healey and Stephanie Peacock in March 2019.
Mr Jarvis said the unnamed nature of the notes was "particularly chilling" and he was worried the writer would "take the matter further".
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said only an immediate jail sentence was justified.
A police investigation was launched after Mr Jarvis (the MP for Barnsley Central), Mr Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) and Ms Peacock (Barnsley East) received the anonymous letters between 23 and 27 March 2019.
In the letters, Wood, of Roundacre, Barnsley, made threats of violence which had left the MPs and their staff worried, the judge said.
He also said he would release wholly untrue allegations about the MPs to the press, adding: "We will be in touch."
Wood fled to Morocco in February this year, days before he was due to face trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
The hearing went ahead in his absence and he was found guilty of three counts of sending malicious communications.
He was arrested on his return to the UK.
In a personal victim statement read out in court, Mr Jarvis, who is Wood's MP, said he was distressed after receiving the letters containing his home address.
He added that following the death of fellow Yorkshire MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a far-right extremist on 16 June 2016, the notes had "raised the level of distress" among his staff and colleagues.
Judge Richardson told Wood: "You intended to maximise the fear and distress of each one of those members of parliament.
"Each one is used to the ordinary rough and tumble of political life in a vibrant democracy. This, however, was nothing of that kind."
In mitigation, Wood, who represented himself, said his mental health played a part in him sending the letters, citing depression and psychiatric issues.
He said his wife had told him "not to get involved in politics" and that sending the offending letters was "rather silly of me".
He was ordered not to contact any of the people he had threatened, apart from Mr Jarvis who is Wood's MP. However, he could only contact Mr Jarvis for legitimate constituency matters.
"You are an extremely foolish man. You have brought this upon yourself. You are the architect of your own misfortune," Judge Richardson said.
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