A Brexit supporter who sent death threats and racist messages to MPs has been jailed.
Jarod Kirkman told police he was just “being a stupid idiot” after he targeted seven parliamentarians who had opposed the UK leaving the European Union or raised concerns about the consequences.
The 51-year-old sent emails with the subject lines “Brexit traitor” and “Brexit loser”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.
Using menacing email domains including MPdeadpoliticianwalking.com, he told former Conservative MP Heidi Allen, who has since become a member of Change UK: “Your days are f***ing numbered bitch.
“Will it be polonium or novichok? Either way you will never know, expect it soon.”
Kirkman, who was unemployed and lived in Luton, also targeted Labour’s David Lammy, calling him a “n*****” and telling him to “f*** off and die in the jungle’.
He told Conservative Nicky Morgan “death will be swift”.
© Thomson Reuters Britain’s Labour MP Yvette Cooper speaks in the Parliament in London, Britain April 3, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERSLabour MPs Yvette Cooper and Jenny Chapman were also targetted, along with former Tory Nick Boles and Sarah Wollaston, who later defected from the Conservatives to Change UK.
“It would appear the defendant was motivated to send these messages by the stance that each of these MPs took towards Brexit,” prosecutor Andrea Scott-Lynch told the court.
Kirkman was arrested after the messages, sent in December and January via contact pages on MPs’ websites, were traced to his home IP address.
Bedfordshire Police said that when interviewed, he admitted sending the messages and told officers: “I was just being a stupid idiot over Brexit.”
Investigators said the activity started after a House of Commons speech where Mr Boles backed a finance bill for a no-deal Brexit.
Det Supt Liz Mead said: “These messages instilled genuine terror in not just the people to whom they were addressed, but to the members of their staff who received them. Kirkman thought he could deliver his vitriolic and terror-filled messages while safely hidden behind his keyboard, and by using bogus email addresses via web forms. It is likely he thought he wouldn’t be traced.
“Everyone is entitled to free speech and to voice their opinion, but when those views cross the line into threats of violence or death, then you must expect action will be taken.”
Defending Kirkman in court, Gregory Wedge said the accused acted as a carer for his mother, and added: “It’s very clear this is a stupid man who made a series of stupid decisions.”
Kirkman, of Torquay Drive in Luton, pleaded guilty to six counts of sending malicious communications at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
He also admitted racially or religiously aggravated intentional harassment against Mr Lammy.
Sentencing him to 42 weeks imprisonment, Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: “You’re described essentially as a typical troll – sending odious messages but presenting as a pitiful figure. You deliberately targeted MPs, from the safety of your home you threatened them. Instead of expressing your views appropriately … you chose to threaten to kill them.
“The message needs to go out that people who threaten MPs are threatening our democratic process.”
Kirkman was handed a five-year restraining order not to contact any of the seven MPs and ordered not to contact any MP in a threatening or intimidating manner.
“There is a line between robust challenge to MPs and our views and actions and threatening to kill us for the job we are doing,” Ms Morgan said after the sentencing. “Mr Kirkman crossed that line and I would like to thank the police for their prompt action to track him down and to the Chief Magistrate for her words about such threats being a threat to our democracy.
“I hope today’s sentence sends out a message to anyone else who might think about making such threats that action will be taken. MPs will not be put off doing our best for our constituents and the country.”
The case comes after police confirmed that an increasing number of MPs have been requesting enhanced security, amid rising levels of abuse over Brexit.
A leading member of the UK “yellow vests” has been charged with harassing Remainer Anna Soubry and a recent protest saw effigies of Theresa May and Sadiq Khan dragged through the streets.