'Pure evil' letter bomber jailed for life

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The Independent Online

The perpetrator of a three-month letter-bomb campaign, which injured a six-year-old girl and blinded a woman in one eye, was ordered yesterday to be detained indefinitely at a mental hospital.

Glynn Harding, 27, was described as "pure evil" by Judge Elgan Edwards as he passed sentence at Chester Crown Court.

"For a three-month period at the turn of last year, you conducted a dreadful campaign, sending mail bombs through the post, putting people at risk and causing, in the case of one lady, the most dreadful injury," the judge said.

Judge Edwards, the Recorder of Chester, said he was satisfied after hearing medical evidence that Harding, from Crewe, Cheshire, was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and needed medical treatment – but indicated he would have otherwise imposed a life sentence.

The court was told that Harding sent devices to a dozen addresses, injuring three people including Leah Cain, aged six. She was scarred for life on New Year's Eve last year when she opened a parcel addressed to her father – a pest controller who cleared wasps' nests.

He allowed his daughter to open the handwritten padded envelope believing it to be a belated Christmas present and the bomb, packed with ball bearings and springs, exploded in her hands.

The Cains went into hiding during the investigation.

Janet Blyth, 46, was partially blinded when a letter bomb exploded while she was opening the post at an estate agents in Patrington, East Yorkshire. The firm apparently dealt in livestock auctions.

As Harding's campaign of attacks gathered momentum, his targets became increasingly obscure and included a fish and chip shop at Holywell, north Wales.

Staff at a Sheffield poultry firm, a farmer in Jedburgh and employees at an aquatic shop in Newcastle upon Tyne all escaped unscathed.

The judge ordered that Harding be detained in hospital until the Home Secretary was satisfied that he was no longer a risk to the public.

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