Eight-month suspended sentence for man who threatened to kill Ben Summerskill

Anthony Ryan of Liverpool emailed gay rights charity Stonewall to say he would put a bullet in the head of its chief executive

Ben Summerskill
Ben Summerskill

A man who threatened to "put a bullet in the head" of Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights charity Stonewall, has been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence.

Anthony Ryan, 42, from Vauxhall in Liverpool, sent an email to Stonewall in January saying he planned to "embark on a campaign of terror" against Summerskill and "all those that seek to support the so-called human rights of the homosexual community".

Ryan sent the message after Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall won their case against the bed and breakfast that refused to give them a double room because the owners did not believe unmarried couples should share a room.

The charity had been instrumental in securing an amendment to equality law that enabled Preddy and Hall to win their case.

The email from Ryan said that it was his "duty to inform your evil organisation that, despite what the government says, according to the holy Christian Bible homosexuality is in fact illegal".

He said he had "decided to embark upon a campaign of terror" against Summerskill and "all those that seek to support the so called human rights of the homosexual community".

Ryan said "it is going to give me great pleasure to put a bullet in the head" of Summerskill, Preddy and Hall and "any other homosexual vermin that I have the misfortune to come accross [sic].

"I suggest that the people mentioned in this e-mail and indeed all evil biggoted [sic] homosexual scum start making their funeral arrangements."

Ryan pleaded guilty to three counts of making threats to kill and was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, at Liverpool Crown Court this week.

He has been given a community order and will be supervised by the probation service for 12 months.

Summerskill said he was satisfied with the outcome. "We are pleased that Merseyside Police treated this with the seriousness it deserved," he told Third Sector.

The incident had been unsettling, he said. "When it is something as explicitly violent as that and you do not know the people or person that it has come from, it is obviously disturbing," he said.

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