Behind the threat to contaminate baby milk formula with 1080 was the inventor of a rival possum poison, struggling financially.
Sixty-year-old businessman Jeremy Hamish Kerr—who previously had his name suppressed and pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted blackmail in December—appeared in the High Court at Auckland on Monday.
In contrast with what was previously speculated, Crown prosecutor Christine Gordon, QC, said the crime was not linked to 1080 as a toxin, but merely as a competitor product. Kerr earned royalties from Feratox, an alternative to 1080, but due to the eradication of possums sales of his product were in decline. Broke and obsessed with money, the defendant drew up a plan to destroy his rival, firmly believing that Feratox sales would have increased by 30 percent if 1080 had been outlawed.
The man was arrested in October, after an investigation that cost police $3 million and saw 60 people being considered of significant interest. Kerr now risks up to 14 years in jail.