Tesco blackmail trial: Farmer bought presents 'after spiking' jars

  • Published
Nigel Wright at Tesco store in LockerbieImage source, Hertfordshire Constabulary
Image caption,
Nigel Wright was caught on CCTV at Tesco in Lockerbie

A farmer accused of trying to blackmail Tesco over contaminated baby food bought his wife presents after planting a jar on a store shelf, a court heard.

Nigel Wright, 45, from Lincolnshire, laced the jars with metal shards in a £1.4m Bitcoin plot between May 2018 and February, the Old Bailey was told.

He denies two counts of contaminating goods and three counts of blackmail.

The discovery of the jar in Lockerbie prompted Tesco to issue a product recall.

Jurors previously heard how two mothers were moments away from feeding their infants when they spotted the shards.

Mr Wright admitted placing the jar on a shelf, but claimed he was forced into it by travellers who threatened to kill him and his family, the court heard.

Under cross-examination, he said he had been followed by a car on his way to Lockerbie, though traffic cameras did not pick up a tail.

En route he had marked up the jar of Heinz baby food he said he had been given to plant, jurors heard.

Mr Wright said he spent about £30 including on flowers and wine from the store for his wife.

Image source, Hertfordshire Constabulary
Image caption,
Nigel Wright was filmed entering the store on 30 November last year

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

Mr Wright replied he was worried what the person following him was going to do.

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

Mr Christopher alleged Mr Wright had also planted contaminated baby food at Tesco in Rochdale in a bid to extort money from the company in return for him revealing where it had been left, which he denied.

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

Image source, Julia Quenzler
Image caption,
Mr Wright admitted placing the jar on a shelf, but claimed he was forced into it by travellers' threats

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."

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

Mr Christopher's suggested the defendant was playing "a game" and "taking delight in being able to outsmart" the supermarket chain.

The defendant replied he was in fear of his life and that of his family.

Mr Wright, from Market Rasen, said he initially lied to police following his arrest about what had sparked the dispute with the travellers.

Mr Christopher said: "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."

Mr Wright 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.

The trial continues.

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