Man sent threatening email to MP
A 60-year-old man sent a Conservative MP a threatening email telling her she would have to choose which one of her children would die.
Mother-of-three Louise Mensch, who is MP for Corby in Northamptonshire, was told she faced a "Sophie's Choice" - a reference to a novel in which heroine Sophie has to choose between the life of her son or daughter at a Nazi concentration camp.
The sinister email was purportedly sent from the online hacking group Anonymous, Gloucester Magistrates' Court was told. But police later arrested and charged Frank Zimmerman - an agoraphobic living in a run-down house in Gloucester.
Zimmerman, of Spinney Road, Barnwood, Gloucester, was convicted in his absence of sending by public communication network an offensive, indecent, obscene, menacing message or matter.
The court heard that Zimmerman had failed to attend any court appearance to answer the single charge he faced or give proper instructions to his solicitor, blaming his agoraphobia and depression.
Defence solicitor Charles Cronin told District Judge Martin Brown that he had spoken to Zimmerman by telephone and he would not be attending court and was instead going back to bed.
District Judge Brown decided to proceed without him and held a hearing to determine whether Zimmerman had committed the offence.
The judge said he had decided not to issue an immediate warrant for Zimmerman's arrest without bail and was releasing him on unconditional bail until he is sentenced on May 8.
He told Mr Hart: "If he does not attend on that date, and unless circumstances change, he must understand I am being left with very little alternative but to issue a warrant."
Following the judge's ruling, Mr Hart said the Crown would be applying at the sentencing hearing for a restraining order against Zimmerman, preventing him contacting "other high-profile individuals". Details of the proposed order were not revealed in court.