England

Peter Nunn jailed for Twitter abuse of MP Stella Creasy

Peter Nunn Image copyright PA
Image caption Peter Nunn was found guilty of sending abusive tweets

A man who sent abusive Twitter messages to Labour MP Stella Creasy after she campaigned to put Jane Austen on the £10 note has been jailed for 18 weeks.

The City of London Magistrates' Court heard Peter Nunn, 33, from Bristol, retweeted "menacing" posts threatening to rape the Walthamstow MP and branding her a witch.

District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe found him guilty of sending indecent, obscene or menacing messages.

She also imposed a restraining order.

The part-time delivery driver used a number of Twitter accounts to retweet sinister posts and send a series of menacing messages directly to the MP.

The restraining order bans Nunn from any contact with either Ms Creasy or feminist Caroline Criado-Perez who began the Jane Austen campaign.

Commenting on the hearing, Ms Creasy said: "Today's sentence for Peter Nunn is a step forward in recognising the distress and fear online harassment can cause.

"We now need to ensure our police and criminal justice services are better trained to identify the risks anyone receiving threats faces, whether these are made on or offline so that we can protect those being stalked.

"Above all, we need to send a clear message that it isn't for anyone to put up with being harassed via any medium - this is an old crime taking a new form online."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Caroline Criado-Perez (right) took part in the sucessful banknote campaign

One message posted by Nunn described the "best way to rape a witch", the court heard earlier this month.

He also wrote: "If you can't threaten to rape a celebrity, what is the point in having them?"

The father of one showed no emotion as the sentence was passed.

Panic button

Victim impact statements had been read out to the court which detailed the "terrifying" threats both women received.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan said Nunn's messages had a "substantial" effect on Ms Creasy, who felt "increasing concern that individuals were seeking not only to cause her distress but also to cause her real harm which led her to fear for her own safety".

She added the MP had installed a panic button in her home following the incident.

Ms Morgan said Ms Criado-Perez's statement described the "fear and horror" she had felt, which had manifested itself in dizzy spells and other physical symptoms.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Stella Creasy is the Labour MP for Walthamstow in east London

During mitigation, Nunn's defence lawyer, Helen Jones, told the court he felt great remorse for the stress and anxiety he had caused.

But Judge Roscoe said she had not seen this during his trial when she had found him "evasive".

"It was really all about you and your opinions and what you wanted to do," she said.

"Although we're only talking about six tweets, it was persistent. You moved account when one was blocked."

In response to the sentencing, Ms Criado-Perez wrote in her blog: "While what Nunn did was extremely menacing, I do not think that sending messages describes the essence of his campaign against me and Stella. I think that is better described with the term stalking."

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