Man made threatening drunken references to Workington MP Mark Jenkinson

100722 mark jenkinson official portrait parliament website
Workington MP Mark Jenkinson.

A man who made threatening references to Workington MP Mark Jenkinson as he left two drunken voicemails on a Conservative Party office phone line has been sentenced by magistrates.

Andrew Blundell, a 54-year-old furniture restorer, made criminal contact by phone after downing a quarter of a bottle of gin on the night of 14 August.

Blundell twice called the Conservative Party office at 9pm after viewing a leaflet which had been posted through his letterbox earlier that day.

There was no answer either time, prompting Blundell to leave two abusive, rambling messages.

In these he appeared to make derogatory reference to Mr Jenkinson, apparently warning against any more leaflets being posted and saying “I keep an axe in my van”.

There was also a further threatening reference to unspecified people.

The voicemails were heard by a Conservative Party caseworker the following morning, Carlisle magistrates’ court heard today.

“She was alarmed by these messages and was concerned for the safety of her colleagues,” said prosecutor George Shelley. “She contacted Mr Jenkinson, informing him.”

When interviewed by police, Blundell, of Mill Terrace, Penrith, admitted the offence, saying he was “going through a difficult period” at the time.

When later brought to court he pleaded guilty to a charge of sending a communication conveying a threatening message.

Defence solicitor, Jeff Smith, said Blundell was a restorer of furniture and buildings, and insisted he was “no threat to MPs”.

The court heard of past problems in Blundell’s personal life but also that he was a man of great creativity who visited churches and gave talks to Women’s Institute members in his spare time.

He was intoxicated on the night of the offence and had no recollection of the phone calls. But he had sought professional help the following day and hadn’t consumed alcohol since.

“It is unfortunate, really, he made these phone calls,” said Mr Smith. “Had the MP in question responded to an enquiry that he raised, perhaps he wouldn’t have felt so frustrated when intoxicated and behaved in the way that he did.”

A probation officer said Blundell usually rationalised his decisions but on the night in question his thinking was clouded by alcohol.

He was “ashamed” having listened to the voicemails. “He is embarrassed by the context, tone and drunkenness,” said the officer.

Magistrates imposed an 18-month community order. Blundell must complete a rehabilitation requirement and 180 hours of unpaid work.

Lead magistrate John Lloyd told him: “We take the view that this offence was serious. Not just because you were drunk and threatened violence but you threatened violence to an elected Member of Parliament.

“That is a threat to our democratic system. For that, you could have received a custodial sentence.”

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Jenkinson said: “I would like to thank the police, the CPS, and the courts for bringing this regrettable matter to a conclusion.

“Serving as a Member of Parliament is incredibly rewarding and provides an opportunity to help people from all walks of life. I remain concerned that unpleasant incidents like this will discourage others from a life of public service.

“I help people out of choice: it is a vocation. But I hope 180 hours of unpaid work — even if it is undertaken as a punishment — will help this individual recognise the value of serving the community.

“Naturally, I hope he has learned his lesson, and I wish him well in his rehabilitation. 

“I hope that the sentence makes people think twice before threatening my staff — or, indeed, anyone for doing their job.

“Finally, I want to add that it is very disappointing that something used in mitigation was not fact-checked by the defence solicitor.

"Had he done his due diligence, his legal representative would have been able to verify with us that we have no record of a Mr Blundell ever having contacted my office.

“Moreover, parliamentary protocol dictates that I would anyway have had to direct his client to his own MP because he is not a constituent."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...