US & Canada

Cesar Sayoc: Man who sent pipe bombs to Trump critics jailed for 20 years

Cesar Sayoc, police photo from 2015 Image copyright Broward County Sheriff's Office
Image caption Cesar Sayoc admitted posting the crude devices to prominent Democrats and members of the media

A Trump supporter who admitted sending mail bombs to critics of the US president has been jailed for 20 years.

Cesar Sayoc, a 57-year-old ex-pizza delivery man from Florida, posted 16 pipe bombs to 13 targets last October.

Prosecutors called for a life sentence for Sayoc, who they said was motivated by a "hate-filled ideology".

His targets included well-known media figures and Democrats, including former president Barack Obama and 2016 election nominee Hillary Clinton.

Sayoc also posted the packages - stuffed with explosives, wires and alarm clocks - to former vice-president Joe Biden, former CIA director John Brennan, senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and actor Robert De Niro.

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Media captionFrom last October: Sayoc's former boss says he "spewed a lot of hatred"

All of the devices were intercepted and none detonated. A report by investigators found that they had no mechanism to set them off, meaning that they wouldn't have gone off.

But the incidents caused a national scare just weeks before the US mid-term elections.

Sayoc initially pleaded not guilty to the 65 charges against him, which included using weapons of mass destruction and mailing explosives with intent to kill. But he reversed his plea in March.

At his sentencing, Sayoc told a court in New York that he was "beyond so very sorry".

"Now that I am a sober man, I know that I was a sick man. I should have listened to my mother, the love of my life," he was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

Image copyright CNN/AFP
Image caption The package that was sent to CNN's offices in New York, addressed to John Brennan

Sayoc's lawyers argued their client suffered from severe learning disabilities, childhood abuse and steroid abuse that caused him to be paranoid and isolated.

At the time he was arrested, last year, they said, he was living in his van and was fixated on conspiracy theories he read about on social media.

His lawyers said: "In this darkness, Mr Sayoc found light in Donald J Trump. The combination of his cognitive deficiencies, steroid-induced delusional thinking, political naivete and his isolation resulted in Mr Sayoc being unable to critically evaluate these claims [he saw online]."

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