“Choose which one of your children will die”: The chilling email sent to Tory MP Louise Mensch by internet troll
Frank Zimmerman, 60, refused to attend court where he was found guilty in his absence of sending the menacing messageHe claimed to be affiliated with online hacking groups Anonymous and Lulz SecurityPolice traced the email to his squalid house in Gloucester
An internet troll sent a vile and threatening message to Tory MP Louise Mensch, ordering her to choose which of her children should die.
Frank Zimmerman, 60, used his computer to attack the mother of three, verbally abusing her and threatening her.
In an email, he told Mrs Mensch that her computer and telephones had been hacked and that images of her family would be posted on the internet.
Louise Mensch MP said the threats made her feel “powerless and scared”
He then told the 40-year-old Corby MP: “You now have a Sophie”s choice. Which kid is to go Who will you choose”
The question is a reference to the harrowing film Sophie”s Choice in which a mother, played by Meryl Streep, is forced to choose which one of her two children will be sent to a gas chamber during the Second World War.
The full text of the email contained numerous expletives and foul-mouthed insults, ordering Mrs Mensch to stop using Twitter, where the MP has almost 50,000 followers.
Too offensive to print in full, an extract of Zimmerman”s message read: “YOU have been HACKED.
“We are inside your computer all your phones, everywhere and inside your homes! So get off twitter.”
Zimmerman claimed to be part of hacking group Anonymous, which has gained notoriety for defacing high-profile websites to spread political messages
Yesterday Zimmerman was found guilty of sending Mrs Mensch an electronic message that was “grossly offensive or of an indecent, offensive or menacing character”.
He was convicted in his absence after failing to turn up at court for the third time.
Gloucester Magistrates” Court has heard he claims to suffer from agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces.
But after he declined to give evidence via videolink, District Judge Martin Brown proceeded without him.
In a statement, Mrs Mensch – who did not attend the hearing – described her reaction to reading Zimmerman”s message while she was in New York.
She said: “I was more than 3,000 miles away from my children and I had no idea how to protect them. I felt powerless.
“I became extremely scared and called the House of Commons.
The MP and husband Peter Mensch, who were in New York when the threats were sent in August. Mrs Mensch arranged police protection for family back in the UK
Defiant: Louise Mensch sent this message to followers on Twitter after the email turned up in her private inbox
“The police made immediate arrangements to ensure my family”s safety.”
Mrs Mensch, who writes novels using her maiden name Bagshawe, used her Twitter account to tell followers shehad reported the abuse to police.
“Had some morons threaten my childrenby email. To those who sent it; get stuffed losers.”
Police traced the malicious email backto Zimmerman”s computer by tracking the IP address, a unique code assigned to every terminal.
Officers immediately went to Zimmerman”s squalid semi-detached home in Gloucester and took him to a police station for questioning.
Yesterday District Judge Brown said he would sentence Zimmerman in person next month.
He warned that if Zimmerman does not turn up for sentencing on May 8, arrest would be inevitable.
Gaon Hart, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said after the hearing: “The right to freedom of speech is accompanied by laws that protect individuals from those who seek to abuse that freedom and use the anonymity of email or Twitter accounts tohide from the fear that they cause.
He said that Zimmerman had tried to use pseudonyms, “thinking that he was safe from detection.
“He was wrong. This should be a salutary lesson for anyone who considers that they are above the law because they threaten others through a computer rather than on the streets.”