The hoaxer who emailed relatives of missing people in the tsunami disaster, falsely claiming they were dead, was jailed for six months yesterday.
Father of three Christopher Pierson caused ‘indescribable emotional hell’ by sending 35 emails to people desperate for news of friends and family.
After gathering addresses from the Sky News Website he sent messages claiming to be from the Foreign Office in Thailand that ‘regretted to inform’ them the missing person had died.
One victim said: ‘The suffering that emailed caused I cannot explain. It was such a cruel thing to do.’ Scotland Yard subsequently spent £10,000 contacting the family and friends.
The New Years Eve messages were traced to Pierson’s computer. After his arrest the 40 year-old was upset and referred to his ‘ten minutes of madness.’
In his defence Andrew McArthur said Pierson had a breakdown caused by a bereavement and the pressure of looking after a seriously ill son. He suffered for 13 years after the stillbirth of his first child, London’s Bow Street Magistrates Court heard.
Days before Christmas, his uncle died and his 12 year-old diabetic son nearly died. Pierson also looked after his mother, who had breast cancer, his father who had a stroke and his aunt who had Alzheimer’s disease.
But district judge Daphne Wickham told him there was ‘an element of planning’ to the emotional hurt he caused.
Pierson of Ruskington, Lincolnshire, admitted causing a public nuisance. He also pleaded guilty to obtaining the £800 computer by deception.