Jailed for Fireman Sam rants hurled at Lincs fire officer
A telecoms engineer who sent abusive messages to Lincolnshire's Chief Fire Officer in response to the service axing Fireman Sam from its promotional material was today (Wednesday) jailed at Lincoln Magistrates' Court.
Jeremy Flashman (56) rang fire officer Les Britzman and swore at him after the officer was interviewed by Piers Morgan on breakfast television.
Although Mr Britzman hung up he later received an abusive email and a voicemail message in which Flashman was abusive about the fire chief's mother, his partner and the officer himself.
District Judge Peter Veits, passing sentence,told Flashman: "This was an absolute tirade.
"You sent an abusive email. Not satisfied with that you got through to his work mobile and started off with personal abuse.
"You then sent an email. It was absolutely abysmal behaviour.
"Whatever the rights and wrongs of Fireman Sam, the Chief Fire Officer did not deserve this level of abuse.
"There is no other sentence but prison that is appropriate for this."
Flashman, of Kings Road, Southminster, Essex, admitted three charges of sending an offensive, indecent or obscene message to Mr Britzman on September 11 this year. He was jailed for 10 weeks and ordered to pay a £121 surcharge.
Kate Minihane, prosecuting, said that following the Piers Morgan interview being broadcast the fire officer began receiving abusive messages about the Fireman Sam decision.
"He received a call on his work mobile from a withheld number. It was a male with a Southern accent."
The caller used offensive language and Mr Britzman hung up.
She said Mr Britzman then received a "particularly nasty" email. Later when he checked his voicemail messages there was a further message from the same man who made the earlier call.
In the message Flashman called Mr Britzman a "sick paedophile" and said the fire officer's mother should have been castrated to prevent him being born. He was also abusive to Mr Britzman's partner.
Using offensive language, Flashman said it was Fireman Sam not Fireman Samantha.
Mrs Minihane said: "Mr Britzman found the contents deeply disturbing and upsetting. He finds it hard to understand how someone could get so angry and abusive about something like this."
Flashman was traced through the mobile phone which he used to make the calls.
Tony Freitas, for Flashman, said: "He knows full well his actions have gone too far.
"He describes it as a moment of madness. A mad rant. He is very embarrassed.
"He apologises profoundly to Mr Britzman."
* Speaking after the court case, Detective Sergeant Adam Petty said: "The nature of abuse in these communications - sent to the head of a county's emergency service - was shocking.
"The sentence that Flashman has received for this offence sends out a clear message that we will take action against those who commit these offences, and that abuse of those in the emergency services simply will not be tolerated."
Debbie Barnes, head of paid service at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "Threatening and abusive behaviour to our staff is simply not acceptable.
"This case involved communication of an extremely abusive and offensive nature. We will always challenge such behaviour, including taking police action, where necessary."
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