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London, May 1 – A National Health Service (NHS) worker has been jailed for five months for abusing and threatening to “tear” former Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel “to pieces” in a letter, a media report said.
Pooneeraj Canakiah, 65, from Hackney, sent the letter in January 2022 when Patel was still in charge at the Home Office in the Boris Johnson’s government, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.
Canakiah marked the letter “personal”, hoping that Patel would open it herself but it was intercepted by security staff before it reached her.
“Your time is coming to an end — be prepared we will get you,” Canakiah wrote in the letter, abusing Patel, “Be prepared, b****”.
“If we don’t get you, we will wait and wait and wait,” he wrote, threatening to “tear you to pieces”.
Prosecutor David Burns said the letter went on to make a series of lewd suggestions about sex between Patel and Johnson, the report said.
Canakiah was identified by his handwriting, and he pleaded guilty to sending the letter during his first court hearing in March, the Westminster magistrates court heard.
Sentencing Canakiah to five months in prison, District Judge Briony Clarke said the letter shocked her every time she read it.
“It’s an attack on democracy”, The Standard quoted her as saying.
“You sent a letter which was disgusting and threatening in nature, it was addressed to a serving MP who at the time was Home Secretary. It was vile in nature, including threats, it was offensive and vulgar,” Clarke said.
According to the defence, Canakiah “worked all through Covid and became very unwell during 2020”.
He has suffered two heart attacks and his mother died in July 2022, the court was told.
Canakiah, who worked with the NHS for 42 years, said he took the offensive step due to his declining mental health, adding that he suffers from depression.
However, the judge said she had not been given any proof to support his mental health claim, so he must serve half his five-month prison sentence before being released on licence.