Woman sentenced for contaminating chocolates

19/05/2016

Wendy Purser was today sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years at Basildon Crown Court after admitting contaminating Lindt chocolates. CPS East of England Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor Frank Ferguson said she put members of the public at risk of choking when she substituted small objects for chocolate truffles.

Mr Ferguson said: "Fortunately, Wendy Purser's actions in contaminating boxes of Lindt Lindor chocolates in stores in South East Essex were quickly discovered and no harm came to anyone.

"But what she did by contaminating these chocolates put members of the public, and especially children, at real and serious risk of choking.

"Her method of contamination was to open the boxes from underneath, take out the individually wrapped truffles, throw away the truffle and substitute small objects such as rubber balls, marbles, conkers or balls of wool. She would then wrap these items in the paper from the truffles and put back them in the box, which she then sealed.

"Having previously bought the boxes of chocolates, Mrs Purser would then return them to the store as unopened for a refund and they would be put back on the shelves to be bought by unsuspecting members of the public.

"When she was arrested, it was not clear what Mrs Purser's motives were for doing this. She and her family do not have any connection to Lindt, or any apparent reason for a grievance against the firm. No blackmail demands were made either to Lindt or to the stores where she returned the chocolates.

"Contaminating food in this way is a serious matter and the charge we selected after considering the evidence against Mrs Purser reflects this as it carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment."

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Details of the charge:

  • CONTAMINATING OR INTERFERING WITH GOODS, contrary to section 38(1) of the Public Order Act 1986.

WENDY ALLISON PURSER, between the 10th day of March 2015 and the 16th day of May 2015, contaminated or interfered with goods, namely boxes of Lindt Lindor chocolates, with intent to cause public alarm, anxiety or injury to members of the public consuming or using the goods, or with intent to cause economic loss to Lindt Lindor, or any person, as a result of the goods being shunned by members of the public or as a result of steps being taken to avoid the goods

2. Stores where contaminated chocolates were bought:

  • Asda Living, Lakeside
  • Wilko, Brentwood
  • Waitrose, Billericay
  • Asda Eastgate, Basildon