Man admits waging blackmail campaign against Tesco

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The Independent Online

An unemployed man today admitted waging a blackmail and bomb hoax campaign against supermarket chain Tesco.

Philip McHugh, 52, pleaded guilty to three charges of blackmail and two of communicating a bomb hoax targeting the retailer in July this year.

His threats, made in letters to the Hertfordshire-based supermarket chain, saw 14 stores closed as a security precaution.

McHugh, of Milton Avenue, Clitheroe, Lancashire, was remanded back into custody at Bedford prison. Psychiatric reports will be carried out into his mental state before he is sentenced at St Albans Crown Court at the end of January next year.

McHugh admitted three specimen charges of blackmail in which he tried to extort £1 million out of the retailer in letters to the Cheshunt-based chain in June and July of this year.

He also admitted two charges of communicating a bomb hoax on July 14, which closed stores in Grimsby and Pontefract.

As part of his bomb threat campaign, Tesco stores were evacuated and temporarily closed in Dyfed Powys in Wales, Fife and Strathclyde in Scotland as well as Lancashire, Suffolk, Leicestershire, Humberside, Herefordshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and London.

The stores reopened after searches of the buildings and surrounding areas.

Charity volunteer McHugh was arrested in Clitheroe on July 23.