Eric Wirkkala sentenced to jail in threatening letters case

A judge has sentenced a Thunder Bay man to 18 months in jail for sending more than 60 threatening letters over a one-year period.

A judge has sentenced a Thunder Bay man to 18 months in jail for sending more than 60 threatening letters between July 2012 and October 2013.

Last fall, Eric Wirkkala pleaded guilty to 16 counts of uttering threats, but the court ordered a psychiatric assessment before sentencing him.  He has been in custody since then.

Before handing down the sentence, Justice Dianne Pettit Baig said Wirkkala's letters were full of "depravity and hatred."

"These [letters] were deliberately calculated to terrorize the community," she said, noting that they threatened the  victims "with death by horrible means."

Justice Baig said many of Wirkkala's letters told victims that they and their families were being poisoned, and that they should watch what they eat and drink.

Other letters, she said, threatened bombing, shooting, burning, rape and beheading.  

The judge also referred to a psychiatric assessment indicating that Wirkkala suffered from a "mixed personality disorder" with anti-social traits, as well as alcohol dependency. 

"He needs serious and significant ongoing therapy," Baig said. 

Wirkkala's defence lawyer, David Young, had asked that his client get a conditional sentence and receive counselling and therapy in the community, noting that he had already served four months in pretrial custody. 

A police van waits outside the provincial courthouse in Thunder Bay after Eric Wirkkala was sentenced to 18 months in jail on Wednesday. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

But the judge said she could not do that out of concern for public safety and the well-being of the victims.

"These people have a right to feel safe in their homes," she said. 

Baig recommended that Wirkkala serve his sentence at either the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton or the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre in Brockville, because of the counselling and therapy provided at those locations. 

Wirkkala will get credit for the time he has already served.  After he completes his sentence, he will be on probation for two years. The judge also ordered that he have no contact with the people and businesses he threatened.  

Earlier in the day, crown attorney Robert Kozak read a long list of victims who had received threatening letters from Wirkkala.  Private individuals, public figures and businesses were targeted, including city councillors, the police, a church, a synagogue, banks and stores.  


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.