Tesco blackmail trial: Farmer jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of putting metal shards in baby food
PUBLISHED: 17:28 12 October 2020
A 45-year-old sheep farmer has today, October 12, been jailed for 14 years after being convicted of blackmail and contaminating specific ranges of baby food.
Nigel Wright, a father of two, was unanimously convicted by a jury following a nine-day trial at London’s Old Bailey on August 20.
The court had heard how he selected jars of Heinz baby food from Tesco supermarket shelves, took them home and set about contaminating them with metal shards.
He then returned a small number of the contaminated jars to stores and threatened that babies would be seriously or fatally injured unless he was paid £1.5m.
His blackmail plot involved three victim companies - Tesco, Heinz and Cow & Gate.
Herts police were heavily involved in the investigation, as Tesco’s headquarters is based in Welwyn Garden City.
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Wright was arrested on February 25, following a major investigation led by the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit who were assisted by law enforcement partners including the National Crime Agency together with the victim companies.
During the trial the jury heard that two mothers discovered metal shards in the baby food they were giving their little ones. Thankfully no babies were injured.
Products were urgently recalled, also during the investigation process, and in total 42,000 jars of baby food were recovered. There was no evidence that further jars had been tampered with.
Wright, from Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, was found guilty of three counts of blackmail and two counts of product contamination.
He was also convicted of an unrelated offence of blackmail linked to a traffic dispute.
The court heard how he tracked down a man he had been in a road rage incident with and sent him a threatening letter attempting to blackmail him into handing over £150,000 worth of Bitcoin.
During the trial Wright attempted to convince the jury that he had been forced to carry out the baby food blackmail plot by travellers who were threatening him but he was unable to provide any evidence to support his elaborate lie.
Jailing him His Honour Justice Warby described Wright’s action as “repulsive” and said his threats were “of a blood curdling nature”. He described his motive as “grubby financial gain”.
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