A sample of anonymous letter sent to a Holt resident.

Do you recognise this handwriting? Holt’s peaceful charm is rocked by a series of poisonous letters - threatening elderly recipients

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
12.31 PM

The peaceful charm of a north Norfolk town has been rocked by a poisonous letter writer - threatening elderly recipients.

Holt residents have received malicious letter from a mystery sender. Holt town centre.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYHolt residents have received malicious letter from a mystery sender. Holt town centre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

At least 15 anonymous letters have been sent in and around market-town of Holt in the last year, containing personal threats, lies and abuse.

And police believe the sender lives among the town community, writing each letter by hand and sending it directly to the chosen targets.

The mystery began to reveal itself when the victims, who wished to remain anonymous, started to bring the malicious letters into police stations and police surgeries in the area.

The insidious crime in a town best known for shopping boutiques, cafe society and its historic independent-school Gresham’s has left people shocked.

Local reaction

Holt town councillor Maggie Prior said incidents like this were unusual for Holt. She said: “This was the first I have heard of it, which is unusual in a small town. It is very worrying.”

Denise Benbow, 51, of Benbow’s Greengrocers, said she couldn’t imagine it happening in Holt. She said: “Holt is one of the last places you would think this would happen because we get on with everybody.

“You never get any trouble and I thought somebody would have said something as people talk about what is going on when they come in the shop.

“A lot of our customers are elderly and we see a lot of people in the course of a week.”

Spencer Finn, 64, of Finns for Fish, said: “I haven’t heard anything but whoever got the letters might not want to talk in public about it.

“Holt is a quiet town with an elderly population.”

Holt Town Council chairman Bryan Payne said he had heard nothing about the letters

He said: “I am surprised something like this would happen in Holt. If people cannot put their name to something they shouldn’t send it.

“It the letters have gone to the police they must be quite serious.

Paul Reed, 44, of P and S Butchers has worked in Holt for 20 years. He said: “I hadn’t heard anything about it but it is not pleasant. We don’t want any crime in Holt.”

Holt Town Council chairman Bryan Payne said he had heard nothing about the letters. He said: “I am surprised something like this would happen in Holt. If people cannot put their name to something they shouldn’t send it.

“It the letters have gone to the police they must be quite serious.

Father Howard Stoker, of Holt Parish Church, said to have received a letter must have been an awful experience.

He said: “I think you would not want to get of one of these letters and to receive one must have felt threatening.

“Particularly if they are elderly then the letters are preying on their vulnerability and you cannot help but take these things personally.”

And now, in an effort to trace the offender, police have released a sample of the letters - hoping the handwriting will provide a telling clue.

The sample letter reads: “The longer you leave it the sooner you will have to vacate the property.”

Another snippet released by police, although not legible, shows the distinct handwriting of the offender.

Police believe the letters came from the same person, as the handwriting is similar in many cases.

They could not confirm if the offender was a man or a woman, but said he or she had targeted the same person several times in the course of a year.

There is no common link between the recipients and police believe there could be more victims who have yet to report the letters or who threw them away and have called for these people to speak out to help the investigation.

Police Constable Anna Rooke said: “We are asking anyone who may have received something like this in Holt or the surrounding villages to come forward.

“It is an offence under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1998 to send an indecent or threatening letter, electronic communication or other article to another person.”

PC Rooke said the offence was punishable by up to six months in prison and a maximum find of £5,000.

Anyone who receives any malicious communications should contact PCSO Keith Clarke at Holt Police Station on 101 or alternatively Crimestopper anonymously on 0800 555 111.