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Student jailed for sending IEDs through post in ploy to get Amazon refunds
14 May 2021, 16:54 | Updated: 14 May 2021, 16:56
A student has been jailed for 21 months for sending improvised explosive devices through the post in a plan described by the judge as "incredibly stupid but not malicious".
Ovidijus Margelis, 26, posted packages with an improvised explosive device (IED) attached, designed to ignite a small flame which would burn through the delivery labels, the court heard.
This would mean the parcels could not be delivered and vendors such as Amazon or PayPal would provide a refund, leaving Mr Margelis "with the goods and refund".
The IEDs led to the closure of multiple package depots and on 5 September 2020 an army bomb disposal team was called to Dunfermline depot in Scotland, which houses 98% of UK Amazon deliveries, following the discovery of one of the packages.
The A38 road was also closed and 100-metre cordons put in place around post offices in Bath and Bristol following reports of further parcels on 11 September 2020.
Prosecutors described the fraud as "reckless in the extreme" and said the economic costs of the incidents cost around £591,000.
Edward Franklin, prosecuting, said Mr Margelis' actions had caused "considerable disruption, and indeed distress" to multiple people, with over 50,000 orders disrupted.
"The mechanism of the fraud was sophisticated, there was significant planning over a sustained period and there was a significant number of victims," he said.
Mr Margelis plead guilty to one count of making explosive substances and to fraud by false representation and possession of an article for use in fraud.
He was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Friday and was also handed a 17-month prison sentence for fraud which will run concurrently.
The third year business management student at Anglia Ruskin University drew on his previous experience working in an Amazon delivery centre, the court heard.
The student's defence lawyer, Tom Wainwright, said Mr Margelis lacked "common sense" and "foresight".
"What Mr Margelis did was incredibly stupid, but not malicious, the consequences simply did not cross his mind," he said.
"No one was hurt and nothing was damaged and that should be borne in mind."
Sentencing Mr Margelis, Judge Martyn Barklem said he agreed with the characterisation that the actions were "incredibly stupid but not malicious".
"The defendant is a man of proven good character," he said. "As a result of money worries...he devised a scheme to defraud initially Amazon and then eBay.
"He made full admission of his crime and said he did not intend to hurt anyone."
But he added that police would not have been aware of Margelis' intentions and "difficult decisions need to be made...public safety is paramount".