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'Anthrax' packages 'were a work of art'.

Byline: Liz Keen

A MAN who sent Happy Shopper flour to First Minister Rhodri Morgan during the anthrax scare claimed the packages were a "work of art".

A jury at Cardiff Crown Court cleared physics and chemistry teacher Nicholas Roberts, 50, of causing a nuisance with his letters of white powder.

But they unanimously convicted him of attempting to cause what prosecutor Peter Murphy had alleged could have developed into "widespread fear and panic" if news of the packages had spread around the National Assembly and the post office sorting depot at Penarth Road where they were intercepted.

Roberts, of Tudor Street, Riverside, who a psychiatrist has said may have a schizophrenic-type personality disorder, had admitted sending flour to Mr Morgan, to writer Jan Morris and to two of his own friends who he said would have found it humorous.

But he claimed in court the packages were "works of art" and would have benefited society.

The court heard how the letters had caused disruption at the assembly and the sorting office and one police officer described how he had been called to work early in the assembly building at Cardiff Bay to intercept all mail to the First Minister.

Sergeant Simon Fuller said:

"We were told there was a biological threat and anthrax was suspected. The building is air conditioned and everybody could have been contaminated."

He described how he had to wear a white suit, mask and two pairs of rubber gloves to carry the letters to a basement room.

Roberts, who was before Cardiff magistrates in 1983 for daubing English road signs in Cathedral Road and again in 1999 for using threatening behaviour when he threw four eggs at the Queen's car when a royal visit passed down his street, denied he had been attempting to cause a public nuisance when he sent out the letters last October and defended himself during his trial.

The recorder of Cardiff Judge John Griffith Williams QC adjourned sentence on him for further medical assessment and advised Roberts to take legal advice. Roberts has been remanded in custody during the investigation and trial.

CAPTION(S):

ACCUSED Nicholas Roberts.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 27, 2002
Words:357
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