A pro-Brexit Falklands War veteran has been jailed for 24 weeks after he posted menacing social media messages to a Remain-supporting MP which left her “scared” and “very exposed”.
Ian Couch, 59, had become “fixated” on Heidi Allen and angry about her “treacherous” views, a court heard.
In November 2018 he turned up on her doorstep, saying he wanted her to return his war medals to then prime minister Theresa May, it was claimed.
And in January this year he sent two tweets and a Facebook post – which included aerial photos of the South Cambridgeshire MP’s home.
In the posts, the former royal marine – from Elsworth in Cambridgeshire – said he was “close to giving out her address to the people that want it”, prosecutors said.
The court heard he also sent her an email telling her there were a lot of people asking for images of her home but he had said no because he admired her constituency work.
The messages would have been “terrifying” and were “clearly threatening”, said district judge Michael Snow at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
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The court heard Ms Allen had felt scared in her own home and village and had installed panic alarms and emergency lighting.
In her victim impact statement, read to the court, she said she had decided not to start running again because she felt she would be exposed to “potential danger”.
She added: “I felt scared in my own home village. I struggled to sleep and was nervous of any noise, particularly at night. I suddenly felt very exposed.”
Prosecutor Michael Procter said the pair had met at a local remembrance ceremony in 2017 and Couch would often email her.
He stressed none of these messages had been criminal in nature, but Couch had become fixated on Ms Allen.
Joseph McKenna, the defence lawyer, said Couch had spiralled into depression and became alcohol-dependent after losing his job as manager of dental laboratory.
Mr McKenna said his client had felt he had built up a “rapport” with Ms Allen beyond that of a normal constituent and had meant his comments to be “jocular”.
Couch admitted two counts of sending offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing messages on a public communication on 9 January and 10 this year.
He also pleaded guilty for not turning up to a previous hearing date.
Couch was handed a 24-week jail sentence for the menacing messages and fined £120 for missing the previous hearing.
He was also issued with a restraining order banning him from contacting Ms Allen directly or indirectly save at official engagements or through a parliamentary aide.
Ms Allen quit the Conservatives in February and was interim leader of Change UK until she left the new party in June.
She now sits as an independent.
SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/pro-brexit-ex-marine-jailed-for-messages-sent-to-remain-mp-heidi-allen-11780480