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Nigel Wright, a sheep farmer from Market Rasden and former North East Lincolnshire Councillor, spent almost two years hiding jars of baby food laced with metal shards on the shelves of various Tesco stores throughout the north of the country between May 2018 and February 2020.
Wright attempted to blackmail the supermarket giant by demanding £1.4million in Bitcoin in return for information on the location of the contaminated jars, as well as further threatening to inject cans of fruit with cyanide and salmonella.
Draft emails of the threats were found on his computer, including one which said “Imagine a baby’s mouth cut open blood pouring out and the inside of their belly cut and bleeding.”
The former Tory Councillor signed off his letters with the fictional moniker “Guy Brush” and “the Dairy Pirates”, and claimed he was part of a group of farmers who were angry at how little they were being paid by the supermarket for their milk.
Wright was finally caught after a detective posing as a Tesco worker handed over £100,000 in Bitcoin in an attempt to trap him.
The former Tory Councillor’s identity was then exposed on CCTV at a Tesco branch in Lockerbie, Scotland, after he had hidden several contaminated jars on shelves, before buying flowers and a bottle of wine and casually leaving.
During the trial, the court heard how two mothers were only seconds away from feeding their children shards of metal before thankfully spotting them.
The situation triggered a nationwide recall from baby food manufacturers Heinz and Cow and Gate.
Wright was previously elected as a Conservative Councillor for Freshney in 2003, and also served as the chairman for the Great Grimsby Conservative Association.
During his election campaign in Freshney, Wright said his aim was “to make the community a clean and safer place, where children can play happily and people do not fear to venture out after dark.“
Philip Jackson, the current Conservative Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said he “would not defend anything [Wright] has done, not for a moment.“
Wright also stood as the UKIP candidate for the Brigg and Goole constituency at the 2010 General Election.
In August, the former Tory Councillor was found guilty of three counts of blackmail for demanding cryptocurrency in exchange for information about the contaminated goods, as well as two counts of contaminating food.
He was also found guilty of a further charge of blackmail for trying to extort £150,000 in Bitcoin from a driver he clashed with during a road rage altercation.
Wright was today sentenced to 14 years in jail for his crimes at the Old Bailey.