Rapist spared jail over death threat

A CONVICTED rapist was today spared jail after making threats to kill council staff on his quest to find housing.

A CONVICTED rapist was today spared jail after making threats to kill council staff on his quest to find housing.

Traveller Robert Johnson, 44, who served seven years in prison for the rape of a woman in Witnesham in 1991, was in court again after venting his anger at Babergh District Council.

Johnson, who claims to have been on the housing waiting list for ten years, rang the council on July 7 to enquire about a proposed move to a permanent house in Hadleigh.

When the staff member who answered his call said she could not connect him to the housing officer, Johnson replied: “You will be sorry and so will he because I am going to kill him.”

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Johnson today pleaded guilty to sending an offensive message by an electronic communication network at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court.

The sex offender recently caused public outcry by parking his caravan outside a women's public toilet in Long Melford to “make a point” to Babergh District Council.

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Villagers were said to be frightened and intimidated by his presence, with many women avoiding the area.

However, after details of his presence there and rape conviction were revealed in the media, his caravan was attacked with a brick. He called police and his caravan was towed to Wickham Market by a marked police vehicle.

Mr Johnson, who currently lives with friends in Great Waldingfield, said he had been offered a property in Hadleigh but turned it down due to concerns about its whereabouts appearing in the media and because there was no room for his caravan.

At the court hearing, Kevin McCarthy, mitigating, said the attention from the media had placed Johnson under a lot of pressure.

“He has been subject to a great deal of publicity,” he said. “He made the telephone call in frustration and he finds it very difficult to deal with officialdom.”

Johnson was given a 20-week prison sentence which was suspended for a year. He was also placed on a Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order for two years, which requires him not to use threatening or abusive behaviour or language.

He was also ordered to pay £60 and told not to contact two officers at Babergh District Council.

Sentencing Johnson, District Judge David Cooper said: “What you said was extremely threatening, extremely bullying and extremely frightening. You deserve to go to prison.

“Please treat your fellow human beings in a decent and civilised way.”

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