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Factory worker admits sending death threat to Tory MP

A factory worker has pleaded guilty after threatening to kill a Conservative politician representing a constituency that had previously had its MP assassinated by the IRA.

Mark Sands, 50, could face jail after admitting sending the "grossly offensive" threat on Facebook against Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell.

Hastings Magistrates' Court in East Sussex heard Sands wrote: "If you vote to take £30 off my money, I will personally come round to your house... and stab you to death, you c***."

On his Facebook profile under the title work, Sands wrote "The Killing Fields, Trainee Murderer".

He also wrote other messages including "End poverty, kill a Tory now".

Under his political views, magistrates heard Sands had "Kill your local MP", and a picture of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox also featured on his page with the words "sawn-off 2.2".

Prosecutor Elizabeth Green said: "For Eastbourne, it's where there had been an assassination of its previous MP in 1990, and that heightens the situation of violence."

Eastbourne MP Ian Gow, a former private parliamentary secretary to Margaret Thatcher, was killed by an IRA car bomb outside his East Sussex home at the age of 53.

In a victim impact statement read in court, Ms Ansell said she found the threats "chilling" and they led her to close her personal Facebook account.

Her statement went on: "It felt like a brush with something sinister."

Speaking to the Press Association following the case, Ms Ansell, who was not in court for the hearing, said she had made security changes.

She said: "I can remember where I was when I picked up that call from the police and they said they had just taken a man into custody because there was a credible threat against your life.

"Nothing can prepare you for that."

She said she knew Jo Cox after being elected in the 2015 parliamentary intake, and told how she felt Sands' threat was "very real".

She also spoke of the difficulty in having to tell her children about the threat on her life, adding: "How do you find the words to make it okay."

Ms Ansell said she felt "compassion" for Sands and that his threat had prompted her to up her engagements rather than force her to limit them.

Madeleine Priestley, defending Sands, of Upperton Gardens, Eastbourne, said: "He has for some time been prescribed anti-depressants.

"He suffers from anxiety and physically he suffers, including from fibromyalgia."

Sands was told by district judge Teresa Szagun all options would be open when he is sentenced at Brighton Magistrates' Court on April 12 after he admitted "sending via electronic communications a message that was grossly offensive".

He was released on bail with conditions, including not to contact Ms Ansell.

Sands declined to comment following the case.

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