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Sixty-five threatening letters nets local man 18-month prison term

A Thunder Bay man guilty of sending a series of threatening letters has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Eric Wirkkala, 46, pleaded guilty Nov.

A Thunder Bay man guilty of sending a series of threatening letters has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Eric Wirkkala, 46, pleaded guilty Nov. 25, 2013 to 16 counts of uttering threats for 65 letters he sent between July 2012 and October 2013 to police, politicians, businesses, media outlets, financial institutions, churches, the military, advocacy groups and individuals.

Wirkkala was sentenced Wednesday at the Ontario Court of Justice to 18 months in prison minus time served with two years of probation following his release. He is to serve his sentence in either the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton, Ont. or the St. Lawrence Valley Centre in Brockville, Ont. where he can receive psychiatric and alcohol abuse treatment.

Each letter written and sent by Wirkkala included a death threat from poisonings to bombings. Seventeen of those letters were sent to the Thunder Bay Police Service.

The letters also included references to surveillance and of the letters being drafted on behalf of a criminal organization. In some letters, Wirkkala referenced victims' loved ones that had passed away and claimed those deaths were the work of this organization.

There was no apparent motive to have a dispute with any of the victims.

Sentencing submissions were put on hold in January when the judge ordered further risk assessment to determine Wirkkala's potential risk to the community.

The report, written by a psychiatrist at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, said Wirkkala has a mixed personality disorder with antisocial, borderline and avoidant features and he also has an alcohol dependency.

The report said Wirkkala posed a low to moderate risk if released into the community, but the doctor expressed concerns about his lack of genuine remorse and emotional detachment.

Wirkkala also admitted writing the letters made him feel good, but he had no plans to follow through on the threats.

Justice Dianne Petit Baig said Wirkkala was "terrorizing the community" throughout the year he was sending these letters and although the accused said he was suffering blackouts from his drinking and couldn't remember writing many of the letters, they were planned and premeditated.

"He set out to frighten the community in which he lives," she said.

The judge said she was concerned of even a low risk of recidivism and that Wirkkala needs serious ongoing therapy.

"This report reveals someone that is very dangerous," said Justice Petit Baig.

The letters were full of "sick, hateful threats" and the harm they caused to the community is "enormous."

The judge said they were not random off-the-cuff threats and that the victims have a right to feel safe in their homes.

"(Wirkkala) needs to be rehabilitated before being released into the community," she said.


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