Jail warning for ex-Iraqi soldier who threatened staff at Dewsbury MP’s office, three months before Jo Cox murder

Labour MP for Dewsbury and Mirfield Paula Sherriff.  Pic: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
Labour MP for Dewsbury and Mirfield Paula Sherriff. Pic: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

A man who frightened staff in an MP’s West Yorkshire constituency office, three months before the death of her colleague Jo Cox, has been warned he will be jailed if he ever repeats his aggressive behaviour.

Jaseem Saeed, 39, was handed a 12-month community order for affray in relation to his behaviour in the office of Dewsbury’s Labour MP Paula Sherriff, where he became aggressive while asking for help with a passport application.

He admitted the charge before he went on trial at Leeds Crown Court, where he was cleared of two counts of making threats to kill.

Saeed, of Nelson Street, Dewsbury, appeared for the sentencing via video link from HMP Armley, where he has been held on remand since the offence on March 9.

Mr Justice Goss, who also appeared by video link from the Royal Courts of Justice, told him: “If you behave in this way again, I have already told you, you can expect a significant custodial sentence.”

Saeed received the community order and was told he must carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

During the two-day trial in July, the judge heard case worker Julie Ward describe how Saeed was aggressive and shouting as he asked about getting a passport so he could travel to Iraq.

Mrs Ward told the jury that Saeed threatened to shoot her, although she did not see a gun.

She also said the defendant, who is from Iraq but had lived in the UK for 14 years, talked about getting a rifle and shooting students at a local college.

Saeed told police Mrs Ward and another member of staff had misunderstood what he said due to his poor English.

Following the not guilty verdicts on the threats to kill charges, Mr Justice Goss said it was “an ugly episode that caused fear”.

He said it appeared that Saeed does not suffer from any psychiatric conditions but does have “anger management issues”.

The judge said after the trial: “Here, unfortunately, we know that three months after he was behaving in this way a Member of Parliament lost her life.”

He went on: “People occupying such roles are entitled to be protected in so far as the law can protect them.”

Ms Sherriff’s base is four miles from the constituency office in Birstall, West Yorkshire, where her colleague Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed to death in June.

Mrs Cox died when she was attacked outside her office in the town’s library.

Imposing the community order, the judge told Saeed that people who worked in public office, including local MPs and their employees, “are entitled to be protected from offending behaviour by people who are angry, impatient, possibly frustrated, but certainly without excuse as far as their behaviour is concerned.”

The judge took into account the fact that Saeed, a single man of Kurdish-Iraqi origin, has already spent over six months in custody.

The court had heard Saeed joined the Iraqi army aged 17 and been subjected to experiences that had affected his personality.

The judge said more recently he wanted to travel back to Iraq to visit family but could not because he did not have a passport.

In March, he went to Ms Sherriff’s constituency office seeking help and saw Ms Ward and another case worker, George Flesher.

The judge said: “You became very angry. You immediately demanded your passport.

“You have admitted you lost your temper and threatened violence, thereby committing an offence of affray.”

The judge said Saeed had previous convictions including for using threatening and abusive behaviour, and his latest offence marked “a serious escalation”.

Urging Saeed to seek help from his GP, the judge warned him: “You are an angry person who has little understanding of the effect your behaviour has on others.

“Your problem lies in poor temper control. That is something you should be aware of and something you should learn to deal with.

“If you don’t, it will simply lead you into further and further trouble and spending significant periods deprived of your liberty.”