A former Queen’s University academic was jailed for five months yesterday for waging a hate campaign in which he threatened to kill a senior colleague and his family.
Dr Patrick Martens, 34, was told by Judge Patrick Lynch QC that imprisonment was “inevitable” after he had threatened to “slaughter” both his victim and his family.
The psychology research fellow had previously pleaded guilty at Craigavon Crown Court to seven counts of making threats to kill and two charges of harassment.
Despite pleas from defence lawyer Joel Lindsay to allow Martens to return to Germany to look after his seriously ill son, Judge Lynch said he had previously expressed the view about the “gravity and the court’s revulsion to the nature of the offences”.
“It is inevitable that there has to be a custodial sentence taking all matters into account,” he said.
The judge sentenced Martens to 12 months concurrent in prison on all nine charges, with five to be spent in custody and the remaining seven on licence following his release.
Clean-shaven Martens, wearing black-rimmed glasses and dressed in a navy suit and white open-necked shirt, was led away in handcuffs to start his sentence.
At a previous hearing, the court was told that the defendant’s victims were a well-respected senior academic and his wife.
Martens had threatened to kill the couple in a six-month hate campaign from August 2011 to January 2012 during which he engaged in more than 500 explicit telephone calls, emails and letters, although he often used different names in a bid to hide his own identity.
The court was told that in some of the correspondence he used graphic and threatening language against the Queen’s academic and his family.
Prosecutor Ian Tannahill also revealed that ironically Martens’ victim also acted as a harassment officer at the university, tasked with investigating any such reports made by staff or students.
Martens arrived at Queen’s having been disciplined in relation to harassing others at his previous university in England in 2008, the court was told. It was claimed that while at the English university Martens had threatened a number of females, for which he also received a police caution.
At the hearing, his lawyer Mr Lindsay explained that Martens’ mother killed herself in July 2011, which had a profound effect on his mental wellbeing. In addition, he had also been receiving extensive psychiatric treatment in his homeland of Germany over the past year.
Mr Lindsay said that Martens, who had also spent eight months as an in-patient at a German hospital, was “apologetic” and had shown “deep remorse” for his actions.