A RETIRED police officer has been spared jail after he left Eddisbury MP Antoinette Sandbach fearing for her life.

Antoinette, 50, said that increasingly threatening contact from John Timbrell, 77, amounted to "stalking type behaviour" and "changed her way of life".

Appearing before magistrates, the Conservative Remainer, said she was worried about the "escalation" of Timbrell's behaviour.

Timbrell, who contacted Ms Sandbach through the Conservative Party website, called the MP "evil" and said that "the penalty is death" for her supporting remaining in the EU.

At a trial yesterday (Weds) at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court in Glos., Ms Sandbach referenced the 2016 case of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered outside her constituency surgery.

Ms Sandbach, Conservative MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire, said: "This is a man that said I deserved to die and should be exterminated for the way I was voting in Parliament.

"I don't know who is at the other side of the keyboard.

Winsford Guardian:

"It has changed my way of life. I have had to have a number of security measures put into my house from threats I have received, not just from Mr Timbrell."

Timbrell, of Drybrook in the Forest of Dean, Glos., pleaded not guilty to causing Antoinette Sandbach harrassment, alarm or distress between June 2018 and January 2019.

The trial heard that the former police officer first contacted Ms Sandbach on June 16 last year through the Conservative website, telling her she was "committing misprision of treason".

He wrote: "You support remaining in the EU which is against our constitution. The penalty for that is still death."

Police were notified about the contact and an investigation began, the trial heard.

Timbrell said in his evidence the reason for his contact was he had read an article in the Daily Mail, which claimed Ms Sandbach had reported a church-going pensioner to police over her critical email.

This was after the MP defied Theresa May by backing rebel amendments in the Commons over Brexit.

His message began: "What an evil person you are, trying to shut down someone who correctly points out that you are disloyal to the Prime Minister who supports the will of the people."

A sentence from his second one, sent on January 10, read: "Antoinette, I hope this has shocked you into taking action to correct the evil way this country is run."

MP Ms Sandbach, a Remainer, replied to the message herself and said she was blocking him from contacting her and would notify the police.

The 77-year-old defendant replied, writing in red, that said he was not threatening her.

Prosecutor Graham Dono said: "The defendant ought to have known by sending those messages, that type of content in the current climate, that his actions would have caused the complainant harrassment, alarm or distress."

Timbrell's defence counsel suggested there was 'a difference of someone reading an opinion and what they take to be fact.' She alleged in the second email Mr Timbrell ended by asking for assistance from the MP.

Giving evidence, he told the court that he sent the first email because he was 'upset' about the way the 'decent' church-going pensioner was treated.

Timbrell agreed that his emails were firm, but told the court: "I don't believe I stalked her."

He told the judge he was 'depressed' and 'not happy with the way we had been lied to by all MPs.' He summed up his case by reading a long passage, which Judge Tan Ikram told him to cut down as he was only interested in the matters in the case.

"What I am interested in is your innocence or your guilt and issues relevant to that," said the judge.

"I am sure she was harassed," the judge added.

But Timbrell said the 'dictionary definition' of harassment was contact 'over and over again', which he did not do.

He suggested Ms Sandbach to ignore or respond to his subsequent emails.

Judge Ikram said it was 'common sense' the first email was 'unacceptable' and Timbrell would have been told that by police.

The judge said: "What I have seen is language used I have never seen before. I see threats, words like 'exterminate', 'I hope you die' which attacks democracy itself."

He added: "All offences of death threats to MPs warrant a prison sentence."

Timbrell was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months and he will be bound by the terms of a restraining order to prevent him contacting the victim.

He will pay a total of £315 to the court.