Devon

MP Ben Bradshaw death threat man spared jail

Geoffrey Farquharson Image copyright Nick Irving
Image caption Geoffrey Farquharson has been spared jail at Exeter Magistrates' Court

A man who threatened to kill a Labour MP in a two-minute answerphone rant has been spared jailed.

Geoffrey Farquharson admitted leaving the message on the phone of Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw the day before Labour's Jo Cox was shot and stabbed in June.

The call to his Westminster office, that ended with Farquharson warning "I will kill you", also included a homophobic remark about Mr Bradshaw.

The 37-year-old from Exeter was jailed for 12 weeks, suspended for two years.

Sentencing at Exeter Magistrates' Court, District Judge Stephen Nichols also gave Farquharson a restraining order that bans him from contacting the MP and visiting his Exeter office.

Judge Nichols delivered the sentence after considering psychological reports and hearing Farquharson described as "very vulnerable and lonely" by his defence.

Image caption Ben Bradshaw said the death threat had been "a culmination of increasingly aggressive and threatening" emails, telephone calls and visits from Farquharson

Farquharson, who admitted sending a communication of an indecent or offensive nature, had introduced himself on the call giving his name and full address.

At an earlier hearing, his lawyer Sue Snow, said her client sounded "unbalanced and upset" as he made the call. During it he can be heard calling Muslims "a problem" and making derogatory remarks about Mr Bradshaw's sexuality.

Speaking for the defence, Rob Jacobs said Farquharson had too much time on his hands to think and ruminate on his political views.

'Increasingly Aggressive'

Mr Bradshaw said the death threat had been "a culmination of increasingly aggressive and threatening" emails, telephone calls and visits from Farquharson.

The MP thanked Devon and Cornwall Police for the "quick and efficient" way in which they dealt with the matter, but said he had received death threats and homophobic abuse before and had not been unduly worried.

He said while security was an important issue and sensible precautions had to be taken, he did not believe "100% security" was either possible or realistic for MPs.

"We wouldn't want that, because we want to be out and about in our constituencies, among the public, meeting people," he added.

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