A postman who waged a hate campaign in which he posted letters and packages containing “overtly racist and depraved threats” to the attorney general and around 150 other targets has been jailed for four years.
Jefferson Azevedo, 45, also sent packages laced with white powder at the height of the US anthrax scare, and placed a hoax bomb on a bridge.
London’s Southwark crown court heard that he singled out individuals because of their support for foreign nationals in Britain or their opposition to the British National party.
Azevedo, of Portsmouth, targeted MPs, solicitors, media organisations, charities, schools, mosques and churches, as well as restaurants and car rental companies.
Some of his packages contained caustic soda. One person was slightly burned after coming into contact with the chemical, while another suffered a skin rash and many people were left “extremely frightened”, the court heard.
One victim, Julius Klein, 79, whose family was killed in the Holocaust, said he felt traumatised by a letter he received bearing a swastika.
The judge, Peter Testar, told Azevedo: “I find a significant aggravating factor in this case was the sheer nastiness which was directed against individuals. I can’t ignore the fact these offences seem to have be racially aggravated.”
Azevedo sent hate mail to the Royal Navy’s dockyard at Portsmouth, the Voluntary Overseas Organisation, and the Slough offices of the mobile telecoms company O2.
He pleaded guilty to 19 charges spanning February 2003 to March last year, and asked for a further 140 to be considered.
Alex Agbamu, prosecuting, said Azevedo had explained after his arrest that “he wanted publicity because of his concerns over immigration” and “intended to frighten”.
“He said he had the idea from the US when anthrax had been sent through the post to various people in that country,” the court heard. “He said he had carried out research in the public library, in newspapers and on the internet. If he found a story he was interested in, he would do what he could to find out how to contact the individuals concerned.”
The postman carried out his campaign in several stages. The first batch of letters, in January 2004, were sent in retaliation against plans to turn a former naval air station in Lee-on-Solent into an asylum centre.
A year later, he sent a tin foil wrap with something rattling inside it to the Buckingham Gate offices of the then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith. Fifty staff, including the senior law officer, were evacuated as a precaution.
Azevedo responded to a campaign to prevent a Portsmouth schoolgirl and her family from being sent back to Syria by sending letters containing caustic soda, some with the message: “If they be black, send them back.”
In March last year, he sent hate mail to a number of residents in Portsmouth and the West Midlands bearing a swastika and the warning: “Ethnic cleansing coming soon to this area.”
William Mosley, defending, told the court his client had a background of depression that had “coloured and overshadowed much of his adult life”.
“It made him a solitary individual who has always had difficulty making friends. And this perhaps led to an outpouring of frustration in the way we have seen,” Mosley said.
Outside court, Detective Inspector John Geden said: “This was nothing less than a terror campaign. Some of his victims were extremely frightened by what occurred. If his intent was to cause upset and chaos, he has certainly done that.”