Sheep farmer who tried to blackmail Tesco by planting metal in baby food jailed

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A sheep farmer who concocted a bizarre scheme to try and blackmail Tesco for more than £1.4million has been jailed for 14 years.

Lincolnshire shepherd Nigel Wright, 45, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday for blackmail over a plot that saw him place three jars of baby food laced with shards of metal in Tesco stores in a bid to extort £1.4 million from the supermarket chain.

He was caught on CCTV placing mental shards in the goods on the shelves between May 2018 and February 2020.

The discovery of the jar in Lockerbie prompted Tesco to issue a national product recall, removing stock from its shelves.

During the trial, Wright admitted placing it on a shelf, but claimed he was forced into it by travellers.

He claimed they threatened to rape his wife and hang his children, the Old Bailey heard.

Under cross-examination, the father-of-two said he had been followed by a BMW on his way to the Lockerbie store where the jar was planted.

The court heard road cameras did not pick up a tail.

Wright said he spent some £30 on goods at the store, including a bunch of flowers for his primary school teacher wife and a bottle of wine for their evening meal.

Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC suggested CCTV from the shop showed he had taken care to avoid suspicion.

Wright was handed 11 years by Mr Justice Warby at the Old Bailey on Monday for his plot against Tesco, and a further three years consecutive for a charge of blackmail against a driver with whom he had had a road rage altercation.

Wright sent the driver a letter demanding £150,000 in bitcoin with threats to execute him with a rifle and kill his wife and children unless he complied after an incident on the A46.

Mr Justice Warby described the contents of the letter as "blood chilling".

His total sentence was one of 14 years.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Warby said: "You were under no pressure from others, or from circumstances.

"It is not as if you had – for instance – a legitimate grievance against Tesco, nor can any other explanation easily be identified for engaging in this series of repulsive actions, apart from greed."

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