A man has avoided jail after sending threatening emails to deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner.

Benjamin Iliffe, 36, sent a threatening email from his personal account on October 16 and was arrested on Wednesday, Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court heard.

The defendant, who appeared by video-link from Thorpe Wood police station in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, warned Ms Rayner to “watch your back and your kids” in the email.

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He admitted sending a threatening email, and also pleaded guilty to possessing a quantity of cannabis on Wednesday when he was arrested.

During his sentencing hearing on Thursday, a probation officer told the court he had spoken to Iliffe who he said felt “angry” after Rayner’s comments, referring to the Tory party as 'scum', which she made during a Labour Party conference reception in September.

During the hearing at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court, the officer said: “He informed me that following the death of Sir David Amess MP, he felt angry at the victim who – he states – described a member of the Conservative Party previously or referred to them as ‘scum’.

"He reports that he felt she was making light of the situation and felt angry as a result of this.

“He stated he wanted to vent, and felt that somebody needed to tell her she was partially responsible for the attack following her use of language.

“When reflecting on this matter he accepted he had expressed himself wrong, and he himself had also used the wrong language in order to communicate his point.”

The probation officer said Iliffe “recognised the impact this had on the victim and those who worked with her and read the emails” as he himself has been beaten up in the past.

The court heard Iliffe wanted to apologise to Rayner and was “tearful” when discussing the impact his email may have had on her with the probation officer.

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The probation officer told the court: “In my opinion, this current offence was deliberate and intentional to harm the victim as Mr Iliffe wanted her to feel accountable for what he believed she had contributed to.

“However, he accepted, in hindsight, it was ill-considered and sent impulsively.”

It said: “Promise you c***.

“There’s so many people in this country now, after your poster boy murdered an Englishman who are coming after you now c***.

“You were easy to find btw.

“I already found your personal home address.”

Presiding magistrate Andrew Riddington, sentencing on Thursday, said: “We believe that the offences are so serious that it does cross the custody threshold.

“It’s so serious because of the psychological harm caused to a public servant.”

However, he said the sentence could be suspended after credit for Iliffe’s guilty pleas and the “remorse shown”.

Mr Riddington said he hoped the rehabilitation activity would help the defendant with his “low self esteem” and “drug use”.

Claire Thorneley, mitigating, said Iliffe had no previous convictions.

“It’s one email sent from his own personal account with no attempt to disguise himself,” she said.

“He made full admissions in police interview as to his conduct. He was very apologetic and remorseful.

“He’s expressed twice that he would wish an opportunity to apologise personally to Ms Rayner for the fear and distress he caused.”

Iliffe, of Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.

He was handed a two-year restraining order not to contact Ms Rayner directly or indirectly, not to talk about her on social media and not to go to her office in Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester.

The defendant was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and 35 days of a rehabilitation activity.

He was made to pay £85 costs, a £128 victim surcharge and fined £50 for the cannabis, which was ordered to be forfeited and destroyed.

Detective Sergeant Christopher Dean, from GMP's Tameside CID, said: "Abusive, threatening or bullying behaviour towards anyone is unacceptable and the threats received would leave anyone in fear - regardless of who they are.

"We will always do what we can to ensure those responsible are identified and held accountable for their behaviour - much like in this case which has seen a man brought to justice.

"I hope this sends a message to those wishing to send threats and abuse online to think again - we will take robust action - people should never live in fear."

Anyone who has been a victim or witnessed a hate crime is asked to report it at the earliest opportunity online or by using the LiveChat service at www.gmp.police.uk.

For victim support and information, visit gmvictims.org.uk. To find out more information and advice about hate crime, visit www.letsendhatecrime.com.

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