A man's been jailed for sending a city councillor a "death threat" email over the closure of Fabric. Sebastian Clark-Darby, a 25-year-old working in IT, was sentenced to eight months in prison after he emailed Flora Williamson, Islington Council's licensing committee chair who's received abuse online since her council decided to close the nightclub after two tragic drug-related deaths.
According to earlier reports, Clark-Darby had emailed Williamson at 10AM on Wednesday the 7th of September, from his work computer. The email's subject line was fairly nondescript, reading "Closure of Fabric". In the message, however, Clark-Darby wrote: "Please note you have received official death threat." He then hit send, making a decision his defence lawyer Shauna Ritchie argued that he immediately regretted. Ritchie also argued that Clark-Darby had committed an act of "extreme stupidity".
That wouldn't be enough to save him for prison time. It turns out Clark-Darby had been serving the final few weeks of a suspended drug-related sentence when he emailed Williamson, after he'd been convicted on three counts of possessing MDMA with intent to supply and one count of supplying the Class As in October 2015. Clark-Darby picked up four months in prison for effectively breaching his suspended sentence, and another four months for sending the message to Williamson.
Judge Daniel Worsley thought Clark-Darby's message as wasn't "at all pre-meditated" but deemed it enough of a threat that its existence helped to "undermine the whole system of democracy". When sentencing Clark-Darby, Judge Worsley said: "Councillors, other elected representatives and employees of public bodies carry out their public duties for the public good. They have to balance competing interests in the community's best interests. It's a difficult job and one undertaken by many, and very often by councillors, with scant reward. The courts will not tolerate threats to them."
Williamson wasn't in court for the sentencing, but a statement from her was read out by prosecutor Patricia Deighan. "After this email," Deighan read, "I am much more worried I am not safe and concerned this will affect the way I carry out duties as a councillor."
This isn't the first time Williamson's been targeted since Islington Council made the decision to close Fabric. Jacob Townsend, a 22-year-old from Eastbourne, was handed a four-week prison sentence suspended for a year after he tweeted Williamson on the 7th of September, writing: "Feminist ho wanna fill my elephant knob in your gob. Your decision to shut the club has made me come over all rapey." Townsend was already serving a community order for domestic abuse when he sent the tweet.
Fabric was forced to close its doors on the 7th of September, and is due to appeal the decision at a hearing on the 28th of November.
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