Plaistow man found guilty of threatening Labour MP with makeshift noose

Lance O'Connor outside Westminster Magistrates' Court, London, where he is appearing on charges of h

Lance O'Connor was found guilty of causing MP Peter Kyle harassment, alarm or distress after a short trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 3 - Credit: PA

A man from Plaistow has been found guilty of threatening a Labour MP by holding up a makeshift gallows with a noose outside Parliament.  

Lance O’Connor denied targeting Hove MP Peter Kyle with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress last October.  

But this morning (May 3) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Neeta Minhas, found O’Connor guilty of causing Mr Kyle harassment, alarm or distress. 

She handed O’Connor a conditional discharge for 12 months, meaning he must not commit another offence within that period and she ordered him to pay £660, including £200 to Mr Kyle. 

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the 57-year-old called out the name of the Hove MP in Parliament Square, while he was walking back to his office in Portcullis House.  

The 51-year-old MP, who was appointed shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland last year, said he saw O’Connor standing with the makeshift 6ft-tall gallows and noose after hearing someone “in an angry shout” call his name. 

He said he then heard O’Connor point at the object and say: “This is what happens to traitors”.  

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Following the incident he ran back to his office as he saw the action a “direct threat to myself and a direct threat to other members of Parliament”. 

During the trial Mr Kyle he said he felt “chilled” and “threatened”, especially after the murder of Sir David Amess a week earlier. 

O’Connor appeared in court holding a wooden walking stick resembling a gallows with a noose.  

He said he did not intend to cause distress but was protesting about “draconian” lockdown measures that were in force at the time and claimed the object was a “statement to the government that treason is still punishable by the gallows”.  

Lance O'Connor outside Westminster Magistrates' Court, London, where he is appearing on charges of h

Lance O'Connor appeared in court holding a wooden walking stick resembling a gallows with a noose - Credit: PA

The 57-year-old was pressed by Alex Alawode, prosecuting, on the gallows being “threatening” as an “instrument of execution”.  

But O’Connor said: “I took that as a symbol. It is a bit of plastic, how am I going to hang anybody with a bit of plastic?” 

He said he hadn’t taken into consideration the distress his actions would cause after David Amess’ murder.  

O'Connor said he would be appealing against the decision and muttered “complete travesty” as he left court. 

Supporters in the public gallery included Piers Corbyn.  

One of them said “disgusting behaviour” and was told to stand up by the judge as she left the room.  

After the trial Mr Kyle took to Twitter to say the verdict gave him “huge relief”.  

He said: “This guilty verdict gives me huge relief, not for myself but our whole politics.  

“Political debate is precious, it needs protecting from threat and violence.  

“I’m so grateful to our police and those who prosecuted this case so professionally. Thank you.”