A MAN who sent threatening e-mails to the MP for Hyndburn was told that the offence "struck at the heart of our democracy."

District Judge Jack McGarva told Howard Hudson that Sara Britcliffe should be free to do what she was mandated to do by the electorate and not be subjected to threats.

"She was clearly very distressed by the messages you sent," said District Judge McGarva. "I accept this was out of character and your inhibitions were removed by alcohol."

Hudson, 58, of Buckingham Grove, Accrington, pleaded guilty to sending messages conveying a threat. He was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months with a six months alcohol treatment requirement. He was ordered to pay £250 compensation to the MP.

James Hudson, prosecuting, said the first e-mail suggested the best thing Miss Britcliffe could do for her constituents was to get out of the county. He said Tory "scum" were ruining the county.

The next message told her to leave and take her family with her because "they would be next."

In the third he said he knew where she lived and she had better get out of "his town" before bad things happened.

In the fourth he said "family pain hurts."

Miss Britcliffe told police the incident had greatly concerned her because she did not know if Hudson was a genuine threat.

"I was panicked because I was concerned for my family back home in Accrington," she said. "I was concerned someone was actually trying to locate where my family lived."

Robin Phoenix, defending, said he accepted the offence crossed the custodial threshold and the only question was whether it could be suspended.

District Judge McGarva, who had read a pre-sentence report prepared by the Probation Service, said he did believe there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and he could suspend the prison sentence.

Miss Britcliffe said after the case: “I hope Mr Hudson will get the help he needs.

“Once again I place on record my thanks to Lancashire Police who were excellent during this whole process.”