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A sheep farmer has been found guilty of contaminating baby food with shards of metal.

Nigel Wright, from Lincolnshire, deliberately contaminated multiple jars of Heinz baby food from Tesco between May 2018 and February 2020 as part of a blackmail plan to make money. Three contaminated jars were found.

The Old Bailey heard that Wright wrote dozens of emails and letters to the supermarket demanding £1.4 million in bitcoin in exchange for revealing where the contaminated jars were.

‘You pay, you save them’

One note said: “Imagine a baby’s mouth cut open and blood pouring out, or the inside of their bellies cut and bleeding. You pay, you save them.”

Tesco was forced to issue a recall of Heinz baby food after a Lockerbie mother found shards of metal in a jar she was feeding to her baby. In total, 42,000 jars of the product were recovered, though reports say there is no evidence to suggest that more had been contaminated.

A second woman, in Rochdale, said she found metal in one of the jars while feeding her young daughter.

CCTV footage from Lockerbie showed Wright – who signed his notes as ‘the dairy pirates’ pretended to be part of a group of dairy farmers who were angered by low milk prices – placing the contaminated baby food on the shelf.

Police found photos of the contaminated food after tracking Wright down to his family home as well as £100,000 in bitcoin which undercover officers had sent him during the investigation.

Guilty

The sheep farmer admitted tampering the jar in Lockerbie but denied touching the one in Rochdale. He claimed travelers forced him to do it by threatening to rape his wife and hang his children, but prosecutor, Julian Christopher QC said he was ‘hoping to make [himself] rich by threatening Tesco in this way while endangering the life of others in the process.”

He was found guilty of two counts of contaminating goods and three counts of blackmail by the jury, which deliberated for four hours and 33 minutes.

Wright will be sentenced in September. A psychiatric report will be prepared before the sentencing.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.