A Coventry man who carried out a sustained hate mail campaign over 13 years has been jailed.
Mark Graham, aged 46 from Everdon Road, Holbrooks, was sentenced to four and half years in jail at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday (Monday 23 January).
Graham had been convicted of nine counts of racially aggravated harassment and one count of attempted racially aggravated harassment at an earlier court hearing following a two- week trial.
The court heard that unemployed Graham had sent a barrage of racially offensive hate letters to over 100 people, including both local community members and well-known personalities, between 2001-2014.
The handwritten letters, which were both hand delivered and posted, targeted members of the public as well as prominent members of the community both locally and nationally as well as religious establishments.
One letter sent to a Coventry gym owner, contained talcum powder, which Graham claimed was Anthrax and resulted in a local shopping retail park being partially evacuated for hours in 2008.
Graham was eventually caught after he sent a racially offensive letter to the Archbishop of York in 2013.
The letter was sent for ESDA testing (Electro Static Detection Analysis) which forensically detects writing indentations. The result of this testing revealed a partial address in Coventry; local officers then investigated and arrested Graham.
When police searched his home, they found stacks of letters ready for posting addressed to a number of people including sporting personalities, members of parliament and pop singers.
In total 400 letters were recovered during the course of the investigation, many of the letters were photocopies of original letters which were then sent to further people targeted by Graham.
Officers used fingerprint and DNA testing, together with handwriting experts to forensically link the letters recovered to Graham.
Detective Sergeant Louise Hanlon, deputy senior investigating officer, said: “Graham had been sending hate mail over years to people from all walks of life. Although the majority of the people he targeted were black, he also sent hate letters to white and Asian people.
“The letters have had a huge impact of some of the victims’ lives – one moved house as a result and another was off work with stress for a long period of time.
“Some of the letters were threatening, but all were highly offensive and upsetting and one, containing powder, led to a shopping park being evacuated.”
She added: “Graham, when interviewed, claimed that he sent the letters as he wanted to write a book and he was exploring character development, but gave no other explanation as to why he sent such hate filled mail.
“I welcome the sentence today-the law is very clear on this; freedom of speech does not give people the right to preach hatred and threaten violence. These kinds of letters should never be accepted.
“I hope this conviction will send a powerful message and also act as a deterrent for others.”
Warren Stanier, Senior Crown Prosecutor from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service’s Complex Casework Unit, said: “As this conviction shows, being targeted because of who you are can be very damaging and isolating.
“People from all communities have a right to be protected from the prejudice at the root of racist hate crime and the Crown Prosecution Service is determined to play its part in this.
“Where we have evidence that a crime took place because of hostility to someone’s race, prosecutors will argue in court that this is an aggravating factor.
“I would like to commend the courage of the victims in reporting these matters to police and acknowledge the professionalism of the prosecution team who worked together to bring Mark Graham to justice.”
As well as his jail sentence, police successfully applied for a 12-year Criminal Behaviour Order against Graham, which bans him from producing or sending any racially offensive correspondence or writing or producing any anonymous correspondence; as well as being banned from contacting any of the people named in the court case.
Source:: West Midlands Police News