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A 33-year-old Pasadena man was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison Monday for making detailed threats to hurt, rape and kill 10 people he met in various settings, officials said.
Samuel Trelawney Hughes, a citizen of the United Kingdom, pleaded guilty in October 2020 to one count of stalking, one count of witness tampering and one count of making threats by interstate communication, according to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Hughes was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer, who described his conduct as “horrendous.”
From May 2019 to June 2020, Hughes stalked and sent anonymous threatening communications to multiple victims, according to court documents obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In one such incident in October 2019, after one victim reported prior threats from Hughes to law enforcement authorities, Hughes sent the victim an email stating in part, “Someone I can guarantee will come out and first bash you[r] head in, rape you slash your throat and burn your car and house.”
Hughes’ conduct often followed a pattern, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He would meet a victim, usually a woman, at a networking event or through his employment. After the event or after having been employed for a period, he would communicate with the victim via email or social media, seeking further social interaction or inviting the victim to meet him at a future date in a one-on-one setting.
When the victim would not reciprocate his desire for further social interaction and would indicate that she or he no longer wished to interact with him, Hughes would then send anonymous threats to the victim, often from anonymous online accounts.
Hughes sent the threatening communications through email, social media and U.S. mail.
“The messages sent to the victims were direct, graphic and disturbing in nature, and they contained threats to injure, rape and kill victims,” the news release states.
After being contacted by both federal and state law enforcement officers on multiple occasions regarding the threatening communications, Hughes continued to send electronic communications and letters threatening to injure, rape and kill victims who had reported his threats to law enforcement, officials said.
In his communications to some victims, Hughes threatened that contacting the police would lead to the injury or death of the victim or the victims’ family members, according to the news release.
“[Hughes] used his computer skills to terrorize these victims and their families with harassment and death threats from anonymized accounts,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “His use of anonymizing techniques and planning allowed him to avoid identification – and punishment – for months while he continued his online harassment campaigns. [Hughes’] conduct traumatized the victims, putting many in fear for their lives and the lives of family members. Some feared going to work or even leaving their homes.”
The FBI investigated this matter.