CHATHAM, United Kingdom – A man convicted earlier this year of causing a bomb threat at a factory making the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK has been sentenced to more than two years in prison.
According to Kent Police, Anthony Collins, 54, sent a suspicious package to Wockhardt Factory in January. It led to the factory temporarily suspending production while the police collected and examined the package.
Investigators found a receipt and a letter from the supermarket indicating that Collins was the culprit. During questioning, police said Collins admitted to sending the package without being asked. He shared intimate knowledge of the package, details that may only be known to the person who sent it, police said.
Authorities said he denied sending it to cause panic and claimed to believe the items in it would be useful to the people at the factory. But Detective Inspector Adam Marshall didn’t believe it, and neither did Maidstone Crown Court – who convicted him and sentenced him to two years and three months behind bars on Wednesday.
“Collins was fully aware of the impact his actions would have and chose to impede the rollout of the vaccine when the program was in its infancy,” said Marshall, Kent Police’s senior investigative officer for the case.
A worker at the factory received the package from a postal worker shortly before 10:30 a.m. on January 27. Security guards called the North Wales Police Department, who responded by evacuating all buildings within 100 yards.
A bomb threat earlier this year temporarily halted production at a factory that made COVID-19 vaccines. The man convicted of the crime was sentenced to prison this week. (Source: Kent Police)
Explosive disposal experts took x-rays and saw that the package contained equipment, such as electrical wiring, that could make a viable explosive.
Authorities used a robot to move the package to a safe location for a controlled detonation, but officers found the package didn’t actually contain a viable explosive.
“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 very appropriate manner,” Marshall said.
In addition to the letter addressed to Collins and a receipt with his name on it, authorities found several pages from a scientific manual and a calculator in the package.
Police arrested him at an employee’s home and found several science books with missing pages — pages later determined to be included in the package. Officers also viewed security footage of the grocery store from which the receipt came. They said it was clear that Collins bought items himself.
“Fortunately, the disruption Collins caused was not substantial, but his actions were an unnecessary distraction,” Marshall said. “I am pleased that we have been able to clearly prove his guilt and that he has been held accountable.”
This story was reported from Atlanta.