Man sentenced for sending fake anthrax to women politicians

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A man from Exeter who sent white powder to 15 female politicians has been jailed.

Richard Hayes, 50, was sentenced to five years' custody at Exeter Crown Court today for sending 16 envelopes containing white powder, some of it labelled anthrax, to 15 politicians including MPs, MEPs and local councillors.

All of his targets were women.

His offending spanned a three-year period between April 2011 and April 2014.

Despite extensive investigations at the time the perpetrator remained unknown.

Hayes was identified when he was cautioned for another offence in 2018 and a DNA sample was taken.

This was compared to crime databases and found to match DNA he had left on the glue strips of the envelopes he sent.

Howard Phillips, of the CPS, said: “Attacks on our elected officials are attacks on the heart of our democracy.

"They clearly have a personal toll too, and these letters caused significant distress to the recipients and their staff, leaving them in fear for their safety.

"The attacks showed a number of aggravating features, including the extended period over which they occurred, the distress and disruption that they caused, and the hostility towards women that can be inferred from the targeting of only female recipients."

Notes to editors

Howard Phillips is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West
Richard Hayes DOB: 15/07/1969.

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