Sussex

Man jailed for threatening to kill Caroline Ansell MP

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Media captionCaroline Ansell talks about the moment police told her someone had threatened to kill her

A man has been jailed for four months for making threats on Facebook to kill his local MP.

Mark Sands, 51, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, threatened to go to the home of Conservative MP Caroline Ansell and stab her "to death".

The factory worker had been angry at proposed disability cuts, magistrates heard, and was charged after police said he had made "a credible threat".

Mrs Ansell said she was used to "low-level abuse" but this was different.

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In the offending posts, made in November, Sands wrote on his personal Facebook wall: "If you vote to take £30 off my money, I will personally come round to your house... and stab you to death."

Sands, who was sentenced at Brighton Magistrates' Court, posted additional messages including "End poverty, kill a Tory now" and, under the political views section of his profile, had written "Kill your local MP".

An image of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox also featured on his page alongside the words "sawn-off 2.2".

He was arrested after a member of the public reported a Facebook post by him to police.

As well as writing on his own account, Sands posted a message on Mrs Ansell's Facebook page.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mark Sands "wasn't thinking" when he made the death threat, the court heard

Speaking to the BBC, Mrs Ansell said: "I remember where I was when I picked up the call from my local police to say that they had seen a credible threat against my life and that a local man had been arrested and was in custody.

"I was at home - it was a Sunday morning - and I wasn't expecting that."

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Mark Sands posted this message on his own Facebook wall

Madeleine Priestley, defending Sands, said he had wrongly believed that Mrs Ansell had voted for a cut to disability benefit that would have affected his income.

She told the court: "It was just an empty threat, he wasn't thinking, just venting political frustration."

Jailing Sands and issuing a restraining order on him not to contact Mrs Ansell, District Judge Christopher James said that the offence was so serious that only a custodial sentence was appropriate.

"It was clearly designed to instil fear in her and it has succeeded in that intent by unsettling and unnerving her deeply."

Sands, of Upperton Gardens, admitted making the threats, at a hearing at Hastings Magistrates' Court last month.

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