A man who sent a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May threatening to poison her with the germ anthrax will be sentenced later today.
Vincent Potter’s letter, which began “Dear BITCH”, was intercepted by a specialist postal officer on August 23 last year before it could reach the Prime Minister.
The officer became suspicious of the envelope because of the letters, which were clearly from a typewriter and unusual.
Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones said: “Wearing full protective gear the sorting officer opened the letter.”
In it, the 60-year-old claimed there was anthrax in the letter, but no trace of the deadly powder was found.
He also claimed to be from the ‘Brothers of the Right Hand’.
He wrote: “Dear BITCH,
“Here’s a little surprise for your officers.
“The powder in this envelope is ANTHRAX.
“This comes from the Brothers of the Right Hand.”
The crime of ‘making a noxious substance hoax’ under the anti-terrorism carries a maximum sentence of seven years, because causing someone to believe the threat poses “serious risk to health”.
Potter was traced after his DNA was found on the stamp and the fold of the envelope.
He has a significant history of offending – mostly to do with criminal damage, theft and burglary – and in one instance was found with a homemade bomb he intended to threaten his neighbour with.
He was jailed for 10 months in 1990 for criminal damage and public disorder, but was spared jail for making the bomb.
The prosecutor said: “He was found in possession of equipment which was capable of being used to to manufacture a homemade explosive.
“He had put these items together with the view of threatening his neighbour, with whom he was having a dispute.”
Mr Emlyn Jones described that offence as “worrying” but “amateurish”.
He also said Potter hadn’t been before the courts for an offence since 1995, when he collected materials for the bomb .
Potter, who pleaded guilty on October 5, arrived at the Old Bailey with a friend and using a crutch.
His sentencing was adjourned after his plea so GP reports on his health could be gathered.
Paula Bignall, defending, said Potter has a “long history of mental health issues” and had a “very difficult childhood”.
He said: “He is present today as a man of 60 filled with remorse and regret and to some extent a lack of understanding of how he came to commit the offence.
“He still has no real recollection of the events leading up to or the event itself.
“He may well have been in grips of delusional episodes.
“He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 19.”
She added that sometimes the side effects of the medication he takes become “debilitating” and he is “compelled” to come off it, which happened at the time of the letter.
Judge Rebecca Poulet QC said that although she recognised Potter was “not a well man”, the “horrible and frightening conduct in 1995 is very worrying”.
Potter, from Mayfield, East Sussex, will be sentenced at 2.30pm today (fri).
Words Grainne Cuffe
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