Fairground worker who sent 'Anthrax' to female politicians jailed

Richard Hayes has been jailed for five years

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A fairground worker who sent hoax 'Anthrax' to female politicians has been jailed for five years.

Richard Hayes, 40, sent white powder - in some cases in envelopes marked "Anthrax" - to the offices and home addresses of MPs, MEPs and local councillors between 2011 and 2014.

Exeter Crown Court heard one politician went to hospital after opening a package and the accident and emergency ward was put into "lockdown" while the powder was analysed.

On other occasions, staff were quarantined in consitutency offices, with police in protective suits called in to deal with the packages.

The white powder sent by Hayes was found to be a mix of flour, protein powder and bicarbonate of soda.

Hayes was caught in 2018 when he was cautioned for harassing a former partner by sending her pizzas and taxis, with his DNA matching samples taken from the lick strips and stamps on the 16 envelopes he sent.

Hayes sent 16 envelopes to female politicians

Among the women he targeted was Heidi Alexander, the former Labour MP for Lewisham East, and Margaret Thompson, a Lib Dem councillor in Hook, Chessington.

The judge accepted that Hayes did not have "political motivations" when he committed the offences, which occurred after the breakdown of his relationship with a female partner.

Upon his arrest, Hayes, who has no previous convictions, told police after his arrest that he held "no grudge" against any of the women he sent letters to.

Representing Hayes, Emily Cook described her client as a "gentle individual" who wished to apologise to those affected by his actions.

He was inspired by a case in Wales in 2002, when Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan was sent hoax anthrax mail, the court heard.

Hayes was arrested by counter-terrorism officers on July 18 and later admitted 16 charges of making a noxious substance hoax.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Butler, from Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) Counter-Terrorism Policing unit, described Hayes' actions as "sick and senseless".

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