A student who sent packages with improvised explosive devices through the post as part of a plot to get fraudulent refunds has been jailed.
Ovidijus Margelis, 26, sent the packages to depots around the UK, causing site evacuations, road closures, and disruption to more than 50,000 people.
Kingston Crown Court heard that the total economic cost of disruption caused by the incidents was just under £600,000.
Margelis was arrested by armed police in Cambridge in September of last year following reports of a suspicious package in Cricklewood, north London.
The third year business management student at Anglia Ruskin University pleaded guilty to one count of making explosive substances in February of this year.
He also pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and possession of an article for use in fraud.
A fourth count of possession of criminal property was dropped by the prosecution.
Margelis was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Friday.
He was also handed a 17-month prison sentence for fraud which will run concurrently.
The court heard the student placed the improvised explosive devices inside packages as part of a fraud.
He would post packages with an improvised explosive device attached, made to burn through the delivery labels.
This would mean they could not be delivered and the vendor such as Amazon or PayPal would provide a refund, leaving Margelis “with the goods and refund”.
The court heard Margelis had drawn on his experience working in an Amazon delivery centre in 2018.
Edward Franklin, prosecuting, said Margelis’ actions were “reckless in the extreme” and had caused “considerable disruption, and indeed distress” to multiple people.
He said that on September 6 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 night shift was cancelled which meant 700 employees could not work.
“There was disruption to around 50,000 customer orders,” he said.
On September 11 Avon and Somerset police were forced to shut parts of the A38 road and 100-metre cordons were placed around post offices in Bath and Bristol, following reports of further parcels.
Mr Franklin said the economic costs caused by the incidents totalled around £591,000.
“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.
“It was reckless in the extreme.”
Tom Wainwright, defending, said that Margelis had 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 Margelis, Judge Martyn Barklem said: “the defendant is a man of proven good character.
“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.
“Incredibly stupid but not malicious was (Mr Wainwright’s) characterisation, with which I concur,” he said.