A bomb hoaxer who sent a suspicious package to a Covid-19 vaccine factory has been jailed for two years and three months.
Anthony Collins briefly stopped the manufacturing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at the factory in Wales, in January 2021, and the parcel had to be carefully detonated by bomb disposal experts.
The 54-year-old, from Chatham, denied posting an article with the intention of inducing the belief it was likely to explode or ignite, but was found guilty following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
He was sentenced on Wednesday 24 November.
Security workers at the Wockhardt Factory in Wrexham received Collins’ package, which was delivered in person by a postal worker.
The staff member who received the package immediately became suspicious of the parcel’s contents and contacted North Wales Police.
More than 120 staff were evacuated from the factory and bomb disposal experts were called to the scene.
X-ray images showed the package did not contain a bomb but a receipt from Tesco in Gillingham, a calculator, three triple A batteries, and a a pair of gardening gloves. It also contained some paperwork which Collin’s had written his address on.
The disruption caused the production of the vaccine at the factory to be briefly delayed.
Collins was found by Kent Police at an associate’s house the morning after the receipt was found. Officers discovered a science book there, with several pages missing. The missing pages were the same ones which had been placed in the parcel.
In custody, Collins admitted sending the package and, without being prompted to do so, provided thorough details on what it contained. This was information which would only be known by the person who sent it.
He also confirmed he had placed it into a post box in Bailey Drive, Gillingham, on either 25 or 26 January.
Despite sending the package, Collins denied that he had intended to create a bomb scare and instead claimed that he believed the items he was posting would be useful to people working at the factory. He did, however, admit that he knew his actions might cause alarm.
Watch: CCTV of Collins buying items from a supermarket. The receipt was found in the hoax package.
Watch: Body worn video footage showing Kent Police officers arresting Collins.
Detective Inspector Adam Marshall, Kent Police’s senior investigating officer for the case, said: "Collins was fully aware of the impact his actions would have and chose to impede the vaccine rollout when the programme was still in its infancy.
"Although the device he sent was not a viable explosive, the people at the site had every reason to believe there was a threat to their safety and they acted in a diligent and thoroughly appropriate way.
"Thankfully the disruption Collins caused was not substantial, but his actions were an unnecessary distraction. I am pleased that we have been clearly able to prove his guilt and that he has been held to account."