Bomb hoaxer jailed after sending suspicious package to Covid vaccine factory

24 November 2021, 15:12

Chatham man jailed for sending bomb hoax to Covid-19 vaccine factory
Chatham man jailed for sending bomb hoax to Covid-19 vaccine factory. Picture: Kent Police

By Megan Hinton

A bomb hoaxer has been jailed after sending a suspicious package to a Covid-19 vaccine factory.

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Anthony Collins briefly halted the manufacturing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at a Wrexham factory in January 2021, after sending a package to the plant.

A precautionary evacuation of all buildings within a 100-metre radius was implemented at the factory on Wednesday January 27, after security staff alerted police that they had received a "suspicious" parcel.

Explosive ordnance disposal experts were called to the scene and X-ray images revealed the parcel contained equipment which could be used to make a viable explosive, including electrical wiring.

A robot was subsequently used to move the item to a safe location before a controlled explosion was carried out as a precaution.

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Following the controlled detonation, it was confirmed the package did not contain a viable explosive but items recovered from the package included a supermarket receipt and a letter addressed to Collin's home address.

The 54-year-old, of Chatham Hill, Chatham, denied posting an article with the intention of inducing the belief it was likely to explode or ignite,

In custody, Collins admitted sending but denied that he had intended to create a bomb scare and instead claimed he believed the items he posted would be useful to people working at the factory.

After at Maidstone Crown Court he was found guilty and today he was sentenced to two years and three months behind bars.

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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."