An "internet troll" who tried to drive the Conservative MP Louise Mensch off Twitter by sending her an email threatening the lives of her children has been warned he could be jailed for six months.
Frank Zimmerman, 60, told Mensch she faced "Sophie's choice", meaning she would have to decide which of her children lived and which died. Zimmerman, from Gloucester, told Mensch her phones and computer had been hacked and images of her family would be posted online.
At a hearing in Gloucester on Tuesday, Zimmerman said he had no recollection of having sent the message and claimed his own email account had been hacked and the offensive messages sent from it by someone else.
But Judge Martin Brown, sitting in Gloucester, said he was satisfied the case against Zimmerman had been proven. The judge said he would sentence him on 7 June at Cheltenham and warned him that he could be imprisoned for up to six months.
The defendant said he had no means of getting to Cheltenham and told the judge he did not even have enough money to eat. But the judge told him he would have to find a way of getting there.
Zimmerman targeted Mensch following last summer's riots when the MP suggested that sites such as Twitter ought to be closed down if the police thought it necessary. Mensch was also in the public eye as part of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, which questioned Rupert and James Murdoch.
Addressing the Corby MP as the "slut of Twitter", Zimmerman said: "We are Anonymous and we do not like rude cunts like you and your nouveau riche husband Peter Mensch. We are inside your computer, all your phones everywhere and inside your homes.
"So get off Twitter. We see you are still on Twitter. We have sent a camera crew to photograph you and your kids and we will post it over the net including Twitter, cuntface. You now have Sophie's Choice: which kid is to go. One will. Count on it cunt. Have a nice day."
Mensch was in New York when she received the abusive email in August last year.
In a victim statement she said: "It was abusive and threatening, making threats to my children and saying I would have to choose which one would die. I felt powerless and scared that my children had been targeted."
The police tracked Zimmerman down to his run-down, rubbish-filled home and he was charged with "sending Mrs Mensch an electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, offensive or menacing character".
Zimmerman claimed he could not come to court for his trial because he suffered from agoraphobia. Arrangements were made for him to appear via video-link but he failed to take part and was convicted in his absence.
The "Sophie's choice" phrase is a reference to the film of that name in which Meryl Streep plays a mother who has to choose which child to save and which to send to a Nazi gas chamber.