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Nicholas Cawthorne threatened to blow up North Yorkshire Moors Railway
11:10am Thursday 27th September 2012 in News
A train fanatic sent poison pen letters threatening to bomb a railway and harm passengers – to blacken the name of a fellow enthusiast.
Nicholas Cawthorne, 50, posted a string of letters to staff at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, signing them David Lake.
Leeds Magistrates Court heard that Cawthorne, of Leeds, who had a life-long love of railways carried out his bizarre harassment campaign to blacken the reputation of Mr Lake, a volunteer at the railway.
Marie Austin-Walsh, for the prosecution, said some of the letters – sent in February and March this year – were directed against management.
She told the court: “Some of them are threatening and abusive, some of them make threats to harm passengers and one refers to a bomb being placed on the railway.
“None of them were taken seriously by the railway or the police to the degree of any immediate action being taken.
“The police seem to have formed the opinion that, in their words, the letters were written by some sort of crank.”
Mr Lake was arrested as a result of the letters, but denied he had written them and was released on bail. He was then rearrested after Cawthorne sent more letters in his name.
Cawthorne was unmasked as the real letter-writer after he sent more correspondence to the company in his own name complaining about Mr Lake.
Ms Austin-Walsh said: “In the letters he describes concerns about Mr Lake, saying he shouldn’t be working there and they should get rid of him. He said Mr Lake was insulting people there. These were all false allegations.”
Police arrested Cawthorne after matching his fingerprints and DNA to the earlier threatening letters – while a handwriting expert said the letters must have been written by the same person.
In mitigation, Ghazanfar Iqbal said his client had never been in trouble before and was deeply embarrassed.
He said Cawthorne, who pleaded guilty to harassment, lived with his parents and had suffered a breakdown at the time.
Cawthorne was handed an indefinite restraining order banning him from contacting Mr Lake or North Yorkshire Moors Railway staff, or travelling on the railway.
He was also given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, 100 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay Mr Lake £500 in compensation as well as court costs of £85.