A forty-five-year-old man who laced Tesco baby food with metal shards has been sentenced to 14 years in prison after being found guilty of contaminating goods and blackmailing the British supermarket chain.
Nigel Wright, 45, a farmer from Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, England attempted to blackmail Tesco for £1.4m between May 2018 and February 2020. Wright sent dozens of letters and emails to the supermarket chain, demanding they pay him off in bitcoin or he would continue lacing baby food with metal.
In one letter, he wrote: “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,” according to the local news outlet LinconshireLive.
Wright contaminated jars of baby food in Tesco stores between May of 2018 and February of this year.
Two mothers came forward after finding the metal shards in jars of Heinz baby food bought from the chain, with one being found in Rochdale and the other being found in Lockerbie. Thankfully no babies were injured as a result of his plot.
The actions taken by Wright forced the supermarket chain to recall over 180,000 jars of baby food, costing the company some £2.7 million, including the loss of revenue and refunds to customers.
The senior investigator in the case, Det Insp Lucy Thomson said: “I think his crime was absolutely horrific and of the most cynical nature putting babies at risk and mothers feeding their children.”
“I don’t think it gets much worse. It is absolutely disgraceful. It is deeply distressing for them. They are mothers with babies under one,” she said.
“They are in the safety of their own homes with their little ones. You do not expect to feed your baby shards of metal. I have worked in major crime for many years and I have never investigated a crime like this,” Thomson concluded.
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Wright was convicted in August on four counts of blackmail and two counts of contaminating food “with menaces”, and was sentenced on Monday to 14 years in prison.
Aside from the Tesco baby food blackmail plot, he was also found guilty of trying to blackmail a taxi driver for £150,000 in bitcoin, threatening to murder the man as well as his wife and children if he didn’t agree to the payoff.
In a letter to the driver, Wright wrote: “We see you as fair game as you use violence in everyday life. Our team consists of ex-military. Our experts in explosives work for many governments and organisations and we solve many problems around the world…eradicating our targets.”
“We will start exterminating your family. Your family’s corpses will be posted on the web to show we mean business and that you are the cause of their deaths,” he warned.
In announcing the sentencing on Monday, 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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