Belfast Telegraph

Jailed, Queen's academic Patrick Martens who told a colleague: 'I'm going to slaughter your family'

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A former Queen's University academic has been jailed for five months for waging a hate campaign in which he threatened to kill a senior colleague and his family.

Dr Patrick Martens (34) was told by Judge Patrick Lynch QC that imprisonment was "inevitable'' after he had threatened to "slaughter" both his victim and his family.

The psychology research fellow had previously pleaded guilty at Craigavon Crown Court to seven counts of making threats to kill and two charges of harassment.

Despite pleas from defence lawyer Joel Lindsay to allow Martens to return to Germany to look after his seriously ill son, Judge Lynch said he had previously expressed the view about the "gravity and the court's revulsion to the nature of the offences''.

"I have taken into account reports presented to this court on your behalf and the issue relating to your son. At the same time, I have to take into account the gravity and the nature of these offences," he said.

"It is inevitable that there has to be a custodial sentence taking all matters into account."

The judge sentenced Martens to 12 months concurrent in prison on all nine charges, with five to be spent in custody and the remaining seven on licence following his release.

Clean-shaven Martens was led away in handcuffs from the dock by a prison officer to start his sentence.

At a previous hearing, the court was told that the defendant's victims were a well-respected senior academic and his wife.

Martens had threatened to kill the couple in a six-month hate campaign from August 2011 to January 2012, during which he engaged in more than 500 explicit telephone calls, emails and letters, although he often used different names in a bid to hide his own identity.

The court was told that in some of the correspondence, he used graphic and threatening language against the Queen's academic and his family.

Prosecutor Ian Tannahill also revealed that, ironically, Martens' victim also acted as a harassment officer at the university, tasked with investigating any such reports made by staff or students.

Martens arrived at Queen's having been disciplined in relation to harassing others at his previous university in England in 2008, the court was told. It was claimed that while at the English university, Martens had threatened a number of females, for which he also received a police caution.

The court heard Queen's University had concerns when Martens arrived regarding how he would conduct himself given his background in England. A short time after arriving in Belfast a complaint was lodged with Queen's by a women who claimed to have been harassed. It was while investigating this complaint that the academic first came in contact with him.

"Following on from that set of circumstances arising, the defendant then indulged in a campaign of threats," Mr Tannahill had told the court.

These included telephone calls to his home, emails and letters, many containing threats to kill.

Showing one such email to Judge Lynch, the lawyer said: "You can see the graphic description of the allegation of what was going to be done", and that the the nature of the correspondence was both "offensive and frightening".

Another email was entitled: 'I'm going to slaughter you'.

At the hearing, his lawyer Mr Lindsay explained that Martens' mother killed herself in July 2011, which had a profound effect on his mental well-being. In addition, he had also been receiving extensive psychiatric treatment in his homeland of Germany over the past year, and that a recent assessment deemed him as not posing a threat to others.

Mr Lindsay said that Martens, who had spent eight months as an in-patient at a German hospital, was "apologetic" and had shown "deep remorse" for his actions.

Although Martens had also been a patient at the Priory Clinic in London, experts predict, while his condition has improved, it could take several years to address all of his mental issues.

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