US man who sent pipe bombs to Trump critics sentenced to 20 years

Cesar Sayoc had pleaded guilty to explosives charges for mailing 16 pipe bombs days before midterm polls.

    Cesar Sayoc says he was never political until he was checking Facebook on his phone one day and 'Donald J Trump popped up' [File: Broward County Sherif's Office/AFP]
    Cesar Sayoc says he was never political until he was checking Facebook on his phone one day and 'Donald J Trump popped up' [File: Broward County Sherif's Office/AFP]

    A man from the US state of Florida who admitted sending inoperative pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of US President Donald Trump has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    Cesar Sayoc, 57, wept and crossed himself when District Judge Jed S Rakoff announced the sentence on Monday.

    Sayoc earlier this year had pleaded guilty to explosives charges for mailing 16 pipe bombs days before the midterm elections last year.

    The one-time stripper and pizza delivery man from Aventura apologised to his victims, saying he was "so very sorry for what I did".

    His targets included Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, several members of Congress, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. Devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta.

    Assistant federal defender Marcus Amelkin said his client was driven in part by his obsession with the US president and his feeling that Democrats were to blame for damage to his van, which was plastered with Trump stickers and images of crosshairs superimposed over the faces of Trump opponents.

    Assistant US Attorney Jane Kim said Sayoc "set out to terrorise people" and had not sufficiently shown remorse.

    "Politics cannot justify a terrorist attack," she said.

    'So very sorry'

    Shortly before he was sentenced, Sayoc told the judge he was "beyond so very sorry for what I did".

    He blamed a life of mental illness, a childhood sexual assault he suffered at a boarding school, excessive use of steroids and his failure to listen to his mother, "the love of my life".

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    "I was in deep denial. I understand now that I have committed a very serious crime," Sayoc, an amateur bodybuilder, said.

    "I wish more than anything I could turn back time and take back what I did," he added.

    "With all my heart and soul, I feel the pain and suffering of these victims and I will be apologising to them for the rest of my life."

    In all, 16 rudimentary pipe bombs were mailed to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, California, Washington, DC, and Georgia. None exploded.

    In letters to the judge, Sayoc has said he abused steroids for more than four decades and was using 274 different supplements and vitamins along with "heavy amounts of steroids" before his arrest.

    He was living in his van when arrested in late October.

    Explaining his crimes, he said he was never political until he was checking Facebook on his phone one day when "Donald J Trump popped up ..."

    He likened attending a Trump rally to a newfound drug.

    "I was getting so wrapped up in this new found fun drug," he said in one handwritten letter.

    SOURCE: News agencies