Paul Ritchie is awaiting sentencing after terrifying Emma Davis and four youngsters with what turned out to be a paintball gun.
He has previously served time in prison for sending threatening emails to British politicians including former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.
It has now emerged that Ritchie, 36, of West Mill Road, Dolphinton, has avoided jail time after targeting Harry Potter author Rowling, the Anglican Bishop of Ripon Helen Hartley and four others with threatening messages .
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Ritchie, who runs a property services booking website, pleaded guilty to six counts under the Communications Act 2003.
He appeared in Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court in June last year when Sheriff Robert Fife placed him under surveillance for two years and ordered him to engage in mental health services.
Ritchie also received a six-month electronic tag that prevented him from leaving his home between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. each day.
But just a week later he was jailed for 12 months for sending what an English judge called “vile” emails to politicians in 2019.
Southwark Crown Court in London heard threats he made included shooting and beheading.
Last month, Emma told how she feared Ritchie might kill someone when he started shooting as she and the boys, an eight-year-old and three 15-year-olds, walked past his home.
At Airdrie Sheriff Court he admitted culpably and recklessly discharging a paintball gun, kicking Emma’s Staffordshire terrier and assaulting two police officers.
The incident happened on October 18, 2020 – five months after Ritchie sent threatening emails to Rowling and the others.
Kevin Jarvis, prosecuting, said: “The defendant ran out of his front door and kicked the dog in the ribs causing him to be propelled through the air and land on the ground.
“Ms Davis warned the children to stay back and told the accused she would contact the police.
“She started to walk away and the accused entered his property.
“Seconds later, Ms. Davis heard what she described as popping noises. She turned around and saw the defendant standing in her garden holding what appeared to be a handgun.
“He was firing shots at her and the others.
“Ms. Davis went home and contacted the police.”
Armed officers rushed to the scene and were met by Ritchie who protested “It’s just a paintball gun”.
Emma, 40, said she and her family were forced to leave the area after the incident.
Her 14-year-old dog, Maya, was traumatized by Ritchie’s attack and eventually had to be put down.
Emma said: “You wouldn’t expect something like this to happen in a lovely quiet village.
“We were absolutely no threat to him and yet he was shooting in our direction as we were retreating.
“It was awful. I honestly thought the kids were going to die. It made no sense – it was crazy behavior.”
Ritchie was due to be sentenced for the paintball incident last week, but Sheriff Joseph Hughes agreed to adjourn the case until October for a psychiatric report.
Defense agent Archie Hill told the court: “My client has had mental health issues for a long time.
“Since his release from prison, he has been trying to engage with social services.”