A PENSIONER has been jailed for almost two years after sending a series of handwritten ‘death threats’ to three Barnsley MPs.
The three Labour MPs said they welcomed the court’s verdict as Donald Wood, of Roundacre, Wilthorpe, was sentenced on Tuesday having been convicted in his absence at Sheffield Crown Court in February.
A police investigation was launched after Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock and Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey received the letters - which were anonymous - in March 2019.
Days before he was due to face trial for the letters, described as ‘chilling’ and ‘hateful’, the 84-year-old claimed he needed to visit his mother-in-law in Morocco and the hearing went ahead in his absence.
Having been found guilty of three counts of sending malicious communications, Wood - who stood as an independent councillor in last year’s local elections - was arrested on his return.
Wood was given an immediate 21-month jail sentence and ordered not to contact any of the three MPs unless it was for legitimate constituency matters, in which case he could contact Mr Jarvis.
His letter to Mr Jarvis, his MP, referenced the death of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, who was murdered in June 2016.
Judge Jeremy Richardson said Wood ‘intended to maximise the fear and distress of each one of those Members of Parliament’ and ordered an immediate jail term, adding: “You are an extremely foolish man.
“You have brought this upon yourself.
“You are the architect of your own misfortune.”
The MPs released a joint statement following Wood’s sentencing.
They said: “We welcome the court’s verdict and are grateful to South Yorkshire Police for treating this matter with the seriousness it deserved.
“Whilst we welcome scrutiny and robust debate, there is no place whatsoever for intimidation and death threats.
“It is totally unacceptable that anyone, including Members of Parliament and especially their staff, should be subject to abuse or intimidation whilst going about their work.
“Anyone seeking to hide behind hateful, anonymous letters such as those in this case should know they run the risk that their cowardice will be exposed.”