A paedophile who sent Theresa May a picture of herself with her head chopped off was found guilty of including fake poison in the envelope.
Self-proclaimed ‘follower of Jesus’ Dr Christopher Doyle, 54, sparked a counter-terrorism investigation when he posted an envelope containing white powder and a poster of the Conservative MP beheaded with the word ‘Pravda’ in Russian. Prada translates to truth.
Prosecutors said Doyle wanted anyone who opened the letter to suspect the powder – which was later to discover to be harmless citric – was poison.
But Doyle denied that he included the powder himself, instead saying he believed MI5, MI6 or the government had opened his letter, were angered by what he had written, and must have planted the citric themselves.
He also said he would ‘rather be hung for a sheep [than] for a lamb’ – a proverb meaning that if he did do it, he would have used a real poison as the punishment would have been the same either way.
The envelope was addressed to ‘Theresa May, C/O: The Nazi Party at the House of Commons in Westminster, London’.
Doyle was found guilty of intending a person to believe a substance was noxious in a four-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
Paedophile Dr Christopher Doyle, 54, (left) who sent Theresa May (right) a picture of herself with her head chopped off was found guilty of including fake poison in the envelope
A second envelope contained a volatile message criticising Mrs May’s policy towards alleged Russian involvement in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and Salisbury survivor Sergei Skripal.
He also included a cartoon of staunch Putin critic Mr Litvinenko who was killed by radioactive polonium-210 in November 2006.
When police raided Doyle’s home in Fir Street, Widnes, they discovered 389,418 indecent images of children on his computer.
He previously admitted downloading the files, but in a four-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court he denied sending a substance intending a person to believe it was noxious.
Prosecutor Joe Allman said Doyle’s actions ‘had the potential to cause great alarm, not least to those ordinary men and women who deal with the mail addressed to political leaders in Westminster’.
Certain secure mail is collected from Royal Mail sorting offices in London and taken to a screening facility, run by Swiss Post.
Mr Allman said staff wearing protective equipment in a sealed-off area then examine this mail for hazardous substances.
One ‘greatly concerned’ worker identified Doyle’s letter as suspicious and found the powder inside, at around 8.45am, on April 5 last year.
A second envelope contained a volatile message criticising Mrs May’s policy towards alleged Russian involvement in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and Salisbury survivor Sergei Skripal (pictured with his daughter Yulia)
He and his colleagues cleared the area and called 999, before specialist police officers carried out tests and seized the evidence.
The envelope was stamped March 28 at Warrington Mail Centre and a mixed DNA profile on the stamp pointed to Doyle.
When told why he was being arrested on May 24 last year, he replied: ‘Yes I wrote to Theresa May, but I didn’t put white powder in it.’
During an interview Doyle stood by this denial, but revealed he also sent another letter to Theresa May, one to Boris Johnson and one to Jeremy Corbyn.
He said the letters to the two Conservatives contained the same card criticising their attitude towards Russia.
However, he said in the others he gave his name and address, and didn’t include the picture of Theresa May beheaded.
He said the letter to Jeremy Corbyn praised the then-Labour leader – who he described as a ‘Child of Plato’ – for criticising the Tory stance on Russia.
Doyle said the other letter to Theresa May included a picture of himself in a Russian T-shirt, because he had loved Russia since he was 10.
He also included a cartoon of staunch Putin critic Mr Litvinenko (pictured) who was killed by radioactive polonium-210 in November 2006
Asked whether he put a fake toxin in the letter, he said he would ‘rather be hung for a sheep [than] for a lamb’ and could have included a real one.
Doyle said: ‘To me it’s just facile, it’s pathetic, there’s no way. You don’t know me, no one in this room knows me, but I mean if you ask someone, “would Chris do that?”, they’d say ‘no, but if he hated someone you know, he might put a real toxin’.
‘I wouldn’t, but you know, they know that I’m not going to do something pathetic, I’m not a pathetic style person, I would never ever do that.’
‘I’m not Jesus, I’m a sinner’
The jury wouldn’t have been told about Doyle’s conviction for sex offences or past crimes, but for a comment he made when giving evidence.
While being questioned by his barrister, Mark Pritchard, Doyle said ‘I’ve been told not to say this’, then added he was ‘a follower of Jesus’ and the ways of Plato.
He said he would never do anything to cause fear to anybody, unless he was doing it in the way of Jesus.
During an interview Doyle stood by this denial, but revealed he also sent another letter to Theresa May, one to Boris Johnson (left) and one to Jeremy Corbyn (right)
Because he made these assertions of his positive character, prosecutors were successful in a bad character application and told the jury he had three previous convictions.
These include common assault in 1998, three counts of malicious communications in 2010 and his admission in February of downloading indecent images.
Asked about the assault, Doyle told the jury: ‘I’m not Jesus, I’m a sinner, everyone sins, every Christian sins, that’s a simple fact.’
Asked how downloading indecent images fit with following Jesus, he said: ‘Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this is if not the top, sorry, if not the gravest shame of my life, it’s right up there.’
He claimed the Category C images – the least serious category – were ‘completely non sexual’, but Mr Allman said that was ‘not true’ and they included naked children in sexual poses showing their private parts.
Doyle said many were downloaded from Flickr, some from a Russian website, and others were photos and drawings by famous artists, including ones for sale by Sotheby’s auction house, he claimed.
Doyle said he found them ‘beautiful and artistic’, hadn’t seen them as sexual, and insisted many were of fully clothed children and were in fact legal.
However, after Mr Allman read a vile description of two indecent images portraying naked children in sexual poses and asked whether they were ‘artistic’ or for sale at Sotheby’s, Doyle accepted they were probably ‘two of the most damning’.
The jury unanimously found him guilty after two hours and 15 minutes of deliberation.
Judge Anil Murray adjourned sentencing until September 3 for a pre-sentence report and extended Doyle’s conditional bail.
He said: ‘On the face of it the combination of both offences are very serious and it’s likely to lead to an immediate custodial sentence, but I need to know more about him before I make the final decision.’