Man jailed after terrifying hoax

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM A disgruntled former employee sent a terrifying hoax letter through the post to his HR manager and another one to the manager's elderly mother, both containing threats and white powder which he claimed might be deadly anthrax, a court heard yesterday.

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM

A disgruntled former employee sent a terrifying hoax letter through the post to his HR manager and another one to the manager's elderly mother, both containing threats and white powder which he claimed might be deadly anthrax, a court heard yesterday.

Gorleston lifeboatman Jonathan Rhodes, 37, sent the letters in revenge after facing disciplinary action for breaking the strict no alcohol rule while working at a naval base in Egypt for Gulf offshore company.

Jude Durr, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said that under the company's disciplinary procedure Rhodes was due to lose his job and after finding out the address, in Aberdeen, of his HR manager's mother he sent her the threatening letter which also contained the white powder.


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As well as making a number of threats against her safety the envelope contained white powder and he wrote: “Is this anthrax. It might be. It might be not.” He ended the note telling her she would die.

He also sent a similiar note to the offices of his HR manager also containing white powder and telling him to resign from his job or face further threats.

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Rhodes, of Trinity Avenue, Gorleston, admitted carrying out the hoax involving a noxious substance and was jailed for 12 months.

Judge Simon Barham said: “You took against the HR manager and found out where his mother lived and sent her the letter and then a letter to him. Both letters contained a powder and each letter said the powder could be anthrax.”

He said each of the letters also contained a lot of “deeply unpleasant” material.

He added: “This was no doubt deeply distressing quite apart from the hoax. The letters were frightening and intimidating and took some planning by you. It was not one letter sent out but two and one to an old lady.”

Jonathan Morgans, in mitigation, said that no one getting one of the hoax letters believed the powder to be anthrax although the content of the notes was upsetting. He added: “They are not fooled by the hoax. It is a hoax which no one believed.”

He said at the time Rhodes was extremely depressed because of the situation and had been drinking, adding: “He has since obtained work again and has stopped drinking completely.”

He said Rhodes also worked for Gorleston lifeboat and had been responsible as part of the crew for saving the lives of eight people.” What occurred in this offence was completely out of character.

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