Man with ‘obsessive’ Covid interest jailed for sending hoax bomb to vaccine factory

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A man has been jailed for two years for hoaxing a bomb at a Kovid-19 vaccine factory.

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Anthony Collins, 54, of Chatham Hill, Chatham, briefly halted manufacturing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in January 2021 after a suspicious package was sent to the Wockhardt factory in Wrexham.

The package delivered in January forced the evacuation of all buildings within a 100-metre radius, while explosive ordnance disposal experts were also called to the scene.

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The production of the vaccine was halted, although the batch was later saved.

X-ray images showed that the parcel contained equipment that could be used to make a viable explosive, including electrical wires. A robot was later used to move the item to a safe location before conducting a controlled detonation as a precaution. After controlled detonation, it was confirmed that the package did not contain viable explosives.

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Various pieces of paper were retrieved from the parcel, including several pages from a science manual and a calculator. There was also a letter addressed to Collins and a supermarket transaction receipt.

Kent Police used supermarket CCTV to confirm that Collins was the owner of the receipt. A search of the address where Collins was taken into custody also revealed a science book that was missing several pages. The missing pages were the ones that were kept in the parcel.

While in custody, Collins admitted to sending the package, Kent Police said. It added that Collins also provided additional details that only the perpetrator would know.

He told detectives that he thought the items in the package would be useful to the people in the factory, but acknowledged that his actions could cause harm.

His trial heard similar packages were sent by Collins to a laboratory in Wuhan, a US Air Force base at 10 Downing Street, AstraZeneca, Gloucestershire, and which appeared to be North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Yes, they were intercepted.

Collins had developed an “obsessive interest” in viruses and vaccines, his trial was told.

Defense barrister Janice Brennan said Collins has been diagnosed with personality disorder and has an “obsession” with sending letters and packages for nearly 30 years.

She continued: “He is a lonely and bored person who finds it very difficult to deal with a normal life.”

Sentencing, Judge David Griffith-Jones QC told Collins: “The compulsion to send bizarre communications to various bodies or authorities is one thing and may be considered harmless folly.

“It doesn’t explain your behavior here, which is to intentionally send a bomb dodge knowing full well that it will cause fear and mayhem.”

He said Collins’ insistence that the contents of the package were intended to help scientists at the Wockhardt site was “childish and quite distorted”.

Collins denied posting the package intended to scare the bombs but pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court. He was sentenced on Wednesday to 27 months in prison, a significant amount of which he has already spent on remand for being bitten.

Kent Police’s senior investigating officer for the case, Detective Inspector Adam Marshall, said: “Collins was fully aware of the impact of his actions and decided to interrupt the vaccine rollout while the program was still in its infancy.

“Although the equipment they sent was not a viable explosive, the people at the site had every reason to believe that there was a threat to their safety and they acted diligently and thoroughly.

“Thankfully the disruption that Collins caused wasn’t enough, but his actions were an unnecessary distraction. I’m glad we’ve been able to unequivocally prove his guilt and that he’s been held accountable.”

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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