Leeds far-right extremist threatened to kill BBC broadcasters and racially abused Lewis Hamilton
A far-right extremist sent messages to the BBC threatening to shoot two broadcasters and made “grossly offensive” racist remarks about Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
Ian Hargreaves threatened to kill presenter Clive Myrie and Formula 1 commentator Jack Nicholls during a series of vile messages made through the corporation’s complaints system.
A court heard Hargreaves, 66, from Leeds, also made “disturbing references” to the murder of BBC journalist Jill Dando.
Hargreaves sent 27 offensive messages to the BBC over a two-and-a-half year period.
When police launched an investigation and identified Hargreaves as the culprit they found more than 1,000 child sex abuse images on electronic devices seized from his home.
He was also in possession of a lock-knife when he was arrested.
Hargreaves was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to two counts of sending malicious communications, possession of an offensive weapon in a public place and possession of indecent images of children.
Hargreaves was also locked up in 2007 after firearms were found in his home when he was arrested for posting a menu with ‘racist words’ written on it through the letterbox of an Indian restaurant.
Anthony Dunn, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court how Hargreaves sent the messages to the BBC anonymously via an online complaints form.
The BBC was made aware of the messages by a member of staff from Capita, the organisation which handles complaints on behalf of the corporation.
Mr Dunn said common features of the messages included a preoccupation with Formula 1 racing and the use of “grossly offensive racist language.”
Hargreaves’ complaints included claims that Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton “should not be described as an Englishman.”
The defendant also accused the BBC of being a “left-wing organisation.”
Mr Dunn said: “He threatened to act on those complaints by threatening to shoot a BBC presenter.”
The court heard he made “disturbing references” to the murder of Jill Dando and made threats relating to Clive Myrie and Jack Nicholls.
The prosecutor said both men were given security advice after the messages were reported to police.
In a victim statement to the court, Mr Myrie described how he found the threats “deeply troubling”.
Mr Dunn added: “It was at the forefront of his mind and he felt exposed when travelling to and from work.”
Hargreaves also sent a similar threatening message to the London Evening Standard.
Mr Dunn said: “It is clear the same person sent all of those messages.”
Hargreaves, of Chestnut Avenue, Crossgates, was traced following an investigation by police in West Yorkshire and Northern Ireland.
He had a large lock knife in his pocket when he was arrested outside his home on November 23, 2017.
Hargreaves told officers: “Some b*****ds have threatened me.”
A total of 1, 341 child sexual abuse images were found on devices recovered during a search of the property.
Ben Thomas, mitigating, said Hargreaves did not intend to carry out the threats and did not send them directly to the victims.
Mr Thomas said Hargreaves has previously received treatment in a mental health unit.
Hargreaves was also ordered to sign the sex offender register for seven years.
Describing the content of the messages, Judge Rodney Jameson, QC, said: “They were not only grossly offensive in the sense of expressing, in the crudest imaginable terms, racist views, but they were specifically designed to create anxiety.”