A LABOUR MP has spoken of the “misery” caused by a Twitter “troll” and her fears for her safety after a man was jailed for 18 weeks for bombarding her with abusive messages Peter Nunn, 33, from Bristol, retweeted menacing posts threatening to rape Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy, and branded her a “witch”.
As he was sentenced in court yesterday, a victim impact statement written by Ms Creasy was read out, which described how the father-of-one caused “misery to her and her family” and led her to install a panic button in her home.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan said the messages had had a “substantial” effect on Ms Creasy, who felt “increasing concern that individuals were seeking not only to cause her distress but also to cause her real harm which led her to fear for her own safety”.
In a statement released afterwards, the MP for Walthamstow in London said the police and criminal justice services need to be better trained to identify the risks to those at the receiving end of threats.
She was targeted after she supported a campaign launched by Caroline Criado-Perez to put an image of Jane Austen on the Bank of England £10 note.
Ms Criado-Perez was also subjected to Twitter abuse by Nunn. She said yesterday that she did not feel the charge he faced in relation to Ms Creasy – sending indecent, obscene or menacing messages – was the right one.
“While what Nunn did was extremely menacing, I do not think that sending messages describes the essence of his campaign against me and Stella,” Ms Criado-Perez said. “I think that is better described with the term ‘stalking’.”
Writing on her blog yesterday, Ms Criado-Perez said of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS): “I don’t feel they understood what happened to me.”
She said that Nunn “made me fear for my life – as no-one ever has before. I felt he was a clear and present threat to me.
“He made me scared to go outside, to appear in public. He seemed obsessed enough to carry out his threats.”
District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe found Nunn guilty at a trial at City of London Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
Yesterday, the judge also imposed a restraining order banning Nunn from contact with either woman. They were not in court to see him sentenced.
The self-styled blogger – who, the court heard, has ambitions of studying for a law degree – had claimed he sent the messages to exercise his right to freedom of speech and to “satirise” the issue of online trolling.
The part-time delivery driver, who declared himself a “feminist” during his own evidence, denied using Twitter to advocate violence or rape.
During mitigation, his defence lawyer, Helen Jones, told the court he felt great remorse for the stress and anxiety he had caused, but Judge Roscoe said she had not seen this during his trial and described his behaviour as “egocentric”.
She said she had taken his good character and no previous convictions into account, along with the impact a custodial sentence would have on his family.
But she added: “It has to be an immediate sentence. There is no reason to suspend it. I’m not convinced that that would give the message that this [behaviour] is entirely unacceptable.”
Nunn’s one-day trial heard that he retweeted a message sent to Ms Creasy which read: “You better watch your back, I’m going to rape your arse at 8pm and put the video all over.”
Over the next days, he sent a barrage of offensive messages using two Twitter accounts.
He was found guilty of sending a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character between 28 July and 5 August last year.
Ms Creasy said: “We now need to ensure our police and criminal justice services are better trained to identify the risks anyone receiving threats faces, whether these are made on or offline, so that we can protect those being stalked.”