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November 21, 2020

Berkshire man jailed for sending abusive emails to MPs

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P
Pa
November 21, 2020

BERKSHIRE: A man with severe learning disabilities has been jailed for two years after threatening to kill Theresa May when she was Prime Minister.

Wajid Shah, of Connaught Road, Slough, Berkshire, sent abusive emails in 2019 to Mrs May and five others, including Labour former cabinet minister Lord Blunkett and Caroline Nokes who was immigration minister at the time.

Emails were also sent to Baroness Lister, Mark Lancaster who was minister for the Armed Forces at the time, and Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi. Further attempts to send more emails, including to Boris Johnson, were intercepted.

The 27-year-old said he would kill Mrs May with “a knife or a gun”, and called Lord Blunkett a “retarded blind bastard”. Prosecutor Barry McElduff told Southwark Crown Court that Mrs May found the email “extremely offensive, threatening and disturbing” and was “left feeling anxious and concerned”. The court heard that Mrs May occasionally received abusive messages but what made this one different was the “explicit and repeated” threats to kill and also the proximity of the sender.

On Friday, Judge Philip Bartle QC sentenced Shah, who he said has an IQ of 58 which is in the “extremely low range”, to 24 months in jail. He said Shah was convicted on “overwhelming” evidence on all six counts that he had sent email communications with the intention of causing “distress or anxiety”.

The judge said that after a six-day trial, the jury was sure that Shah had sent the emails which were “extremely offensive and abhorrent” and contained “vile abuse”. The court heard the email Ms Nokes received, which she read in the House of Commons library, was particularly concerning to her as it referred to her role as an immigration minister. Judge Bartle said that while Ms Nokes had received abusive emails before, this one suggested the sender had looked up her constituency address and she drew comparisons with Jo Cox who was murdered in her constituency in 2016.

Mr McElduff said Baroness Lister found the contents of the email sent to her “threatening, horrible and upsetting” and “indicative of a disturbed mind”. The court heard that Lord Blunkett found the two emails he received to be “deeply offensive and threatening”.

Mr Dhesi, Shah’s constituency MP, had contact with him before regarding the citizenship test which was “something of a theme in this case”, Mr McElduff said. But in 2019, Mr Dhesi received four abusive emails from the defendant, which included a threat to kill. The emails led to police advising him to close and vacate his office.

The court heard that Mr Dhesi found the correspondence to be “abusive and very disconcerting”. Mr Lancaster, who did not stand at the next election, found the email sent to him to be “menacing” and it left him feeling “deeply uneasy”, the court heard.

Shah was convicted of six counts of sending a letter/communication or article conveying a threatening message following a trial at Southwark Crown Court last month. The offences occurred between March 27 and April 11 2019.

Shah was first arrested on March 30 but went on to commit further offences and he was rearrested on April 15.