A farmer accused of trying to blackmail Tesco after spiking baby food was coerced by travellers who threatened to kill him, a jury heard.
Nigel Wright, 45, from Lincolnshire, laced the jars with metal shards in a £1.4m Bitcoin plot between May 2018 and February, the Old Bailey was told.
He denies two counts of contaminating goods and three counts of blackmail.
Jurors previously heard how two mothers were moments away from feeding their infants when they spotted the shards.
Giving evidence, Mr Wright, from Market Rasen, admitted sending letters to the supermarket chain offering to reveal the location of products he claimed to have contaminated with fragments of metal blades in exchange for cryptocurrency.
But he said he did this after travellers came to his property demanding he give them £500,000.
‘Threatened with knife’
He said the threats began when he fired a warning shot at a group of men who had come to his farm looking for scrap metal.
Mr Wright said the men returned some days later, pinned him to the ground and threatened him with a knife.
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He said the unknown men had suggested he either rob a bank, start stealing cows or poison a supermarket to raise the cash.
The defendant said one of the group had given him the jar of baby food and forced him to plant it in a store in Lockerbie.
He told the court they then forced him to send the letters to Tesco after threatening to kill him, his wife and children.
When asked why he did not just go to the police, he said: “I’ve been to the police in the past and they’ve failed me.”
Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC said through his letters Mr Wright was playing “cat and mouse” with the supermarket chain.
The court heard as a result of the letters, Tesco issued a recall of 42,000 jars of Heinz baby food and 140,000 jars of Cow and Gate baby food.
The trial continues.
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