Security Guard Jailed Over Death Threats
29 October 2013, 16:41 | Updated: 29 October 2013, 16:45
A man from the Isle of Wight has been jailed for three years after admitting charges of threats to kill and fraud.
Christopher Cooknell, 54, of Wootton Bridge in Ryde, had previously admitted the offences at Basildon Crown Court on October 3.
He was jailed for two years for threats to kill to run consecutively with a year for fraud.
Cooknell admitted to sending anonymous text messages in December 2012 to his employer, threatening to kill him and his family.
He had been employed as part of a private security team for the victim Daniel Holloway's family estate in Brentwood. The team had been employed as a result of an aggravated burglary at the premises in June 2009.
The messages left the family in fear that they were being targeted again and immediately increased their security, resulting in a promotion and pay rise for Cooknell.
The police investigation identified that the messages had come from a mobile phone linked to Cooknell and he was arrested and admitted sending the messages, trying to claim they were a 'prank'.
A detailed and thorough investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate in Harlow delved further and established that Cooknell was also responsible for an anonymous letter sent to the family in August 2011.
The letter implicated the gardeners employed by the family as having carried out the aggravated burglary in 2009, and implied another burglary at gunpoint was being planned.
This was a complete fabrication by Cooknell and not only did it increase his security hours, it resulted in the innocent gardeners being arrested and investigated by police.
Cooknell has since admitted his part in sending the letter which he had hoped would result in the gardeners being sacked. No evidence was found linking the gardeners to the burglary and they were released from their bail and no further action was taken.
Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Lucy Robinson said:
"Christopher Cooknell is a dangerous man in that he fails to fully comprehend the implications of his actions. He has caused a great deal of suffering to the victim and his family by sending distressing text messages and his actions have also resulted in two innocent men being arrested for no reason.
"His motivation appears to be entirely for selfish financial gain and I have no doubt that had his text messages been allowed to continue he would have become increasingly greedy and sought to demand money from Mr Holloway.
"Thankfully it never came to this, but I hope his sentence today reflects the seriousness of his actions."