Tesco shopper ‘spiked baby food with metal shards in blackmail bid’, court hears

An alleged blackmailer bought wine and flowers for his wife after planting a jar of baby food on a shelf in Tesco which he'd spiked with metal shards, a court has heard.

Farmer Nigel Wright, 45, is accused of trying to extort £1.4 million in bitcoin from the supermarket giant.

He allegedly put mental shards in the goods 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.

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.

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He said: "What I suggest we see, the first thing you do is take two jars off the shelf and you take the jar you had come with from your pocket and put it in the trolley.

"And then, as if changing your mind, put the jar back on the shelf.

"I'm suggesting you have plainly given quite a bit of thought to going about it without attracting suspicion. Did you give quite a bit of thought to that?"

Wright replied: "No. I was worried what this person following was going to do.

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"The reason I put it on the shelf was because I thought these people might check."

Mr Christopher alleged that Wright had also planted more contaminated baby food at another Tesco in Rochdale.

He said: "The truth is you did place those two jars in Rochdale and you knew there was more than the jar in Lockerbie that had been placed out there and might be bought by customers.

"Even by then you had seen the news of the recall of the jars because of the Lockerbie jar. You were still looking to see if there was any other news."

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Wright admitted carrying out a Google search, but continued to deny being responsible for the Rochdale jars.

The defendant also denied that dozens of letters sent to the supermarket chain were about "attacking Tesco".

Mr Christopher said: "There came a stage you were prepared in the circumstances to put a jar of baby food you knew had been contaminated on a shelf where it would be bought by the parent of a young child."

Wright told jurors: "I was not 100% sure it was contaminated."

Wright, from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, denies 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.

He also denies 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.

Concluding his cross-examination, Mr Christopher asserted: "The truth is you were not in fear at all.

“You were carrying on your life normally while hoping to make yourself rich by threatening Tesco in this way while endangering the life of others in the process."

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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