Sheep farmer, 45, jailed for 14 years over bid to extort £1.4m from Tesco

Sheep farmer, 45, who put three jars of baby food laced with shards of metal on Tesco store shelves in bid to extort £1.4m from them is jailed for 14 years

  • Nigel Wright from Lincolshire tried to extort Tesco for nearly £1.4million bitcoin
  • The 45-year-old was angry at the supermarket chain for ‘underpaying for milk’
  • He laced children’s baby food with metal by planting contaminated jars in Tesco
  • Two mothers were moments away from feeding their children the laced food 

Nigel Wright, 45, placed three jars of baby food laced with shards of metal in a bid to extort £1.4 million worth of Bitcoin from the supermarket chain

A Lincolnshire sheep farmer has been jailed for 14 years over a £1.4million blackmail plot involving Tesco.

Nigel Wright, 45, placed three jars of baby food laced with shards of metal in a bid to extort £1.4 million worth of Bitcoin from the supermarket chain.

Wright planted tampered jars of Heinz and Cow & Gate in branches across the UK – including one in Lockerbie, Scotland.

The married father-of-two also threatened to poison tins of food with cyanide and salmonella unless the supermarket giant sent him the money.

He was eventually arrested on February 25 this year following an investigation led by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit with the help of the National Crime Agency.

Involving more than 100 police officers, it is thought to be the UK’s biggest ever blackmail probe. 

The Old Bailey previously heard how two mothers were just moments away from feeding their children the metal-laced baby food. 

The court heard Morven Smith was feeding her 10-month-old son a jar of Heinz sweet and sour chicken baby food in December 2019 when she noticed fragments of a craft knife blade.

Wright contaminated the jar with the blades before depositing it in the store while delivering a car to a buyer on behalf of a neighbour. 

Wright contaminated the jar with the blades before depositing it in the store while delivering a car to a buyer on behalf of a neighbour

Wright contaminated the jar with the blades before depositing it in the store while delivering a car to a buyer on behalf of a neighbour 

A total of 42,000 jars of Heinz baby food were recovered, although there is no evidence that any more had been tampered with

A total of 42,000 jars of Heinz baby food were recovered, although there is no evidence that any more had been tampered with

The discovery prompted Tesco to issue a national product recall of all jars of the product and to remove all its remaining stock from its shelves. 

Following the recall, Harprett Kaur Singh told the chain she too had discovered fragments of metal when she was feeding her nine-month-old daughter a jar of Heinz Sunday chicken dinner.

Ms Singh threw the jar away, the jury heard, but a few days later she found more pieces of metal in a jar of cheese and tomato pasta stars.

A total of 42,000 jars of Heinz baby food were recovered, although there is no evidence that any more had been tampered with.

Wright denied two counts of contaminating goods and three counts of blackmail for demanding cryptocurrency from Tesco in exchange for revealing where the contaminated food had been placed.

But in August, after deliberating for four hours and 33 minutes, jurors at the Old Bailey found Wright guilty of two counts of contaminating goods and three counts of blackmail for demanding cryptocurrency from Tesco in exchange for revealing where the contaminated food had been placed.

Nigel Wright, 45, pictured in the Tesco branch in Lockerbie

The jar of Heinz baby food that was allegedly laced with fragments of a craft knife by Nigel Wright

The court was shown CCTV footage of Nigel Wright in a Tesco branch in Lockerbie, the same branch one mother purchased Heinz baby food and found metal fragments inside

He was also convicted of a further charge of blackmail for allegedly demanding £150,000 worth of bitcoin from a driver with whom he had had a road rage altercation. 

Following the incident on the A46, the driver withdrew his complaint after receiving a ‘nasty anonymous letter’. 

He was sentenced to 14 years in prison today, after judge Mr Justice Warby adjourned the sentence in August for a psychiatric report on Wright to be prepared.

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