A HEREFORD soldier has been jailed for two years after a plot to sabotage his partner's pregnancy pills with poison was discovered.

Matthew Fletcher, who was in the Royal Artillery, had hatched a meticulously planned scheme to prevent his partner from having a baby, Worcester Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor James Dunstan told how Fletcher had drilled holes in her pregnancy pills intending to fill them with a poison he had ordered from India.

But the plan came unstuck when his partner intercepted a package from abroad containing the poison. She went to hospital and the police with her suspicions.

Mr Dunstan said 34-year-old Fletcher had been in a loving relationship with Helen Fry for three years but there were difficulties when she said she wanted a baby.

His behaviour changed when he said he was not ready for a family. The pair split for a short time and it was when they reconciled and she said she was pregnant that he hatched a plot.

He bought equipment so he could drill small holes into her pregnancy pills and fill them with a powder which could cause a miscarriage. He bought paint to cover the holes.

Fletcher, of Red Norman Rise, Holmer, Hereford, pleaded guilty to procuring poison intending to cause a miscarriage. He was said to have had a blameless career in uniform. Mr Dunstan said it had been a meticulously planned attack on his partner, who had gone back to her parents at the age of 31.

Ramin Pakrooh, for Fletcher, said it had been a loving relationship and there had been no attempt at so-called child destruction. Although he had made preparations, he had second thoughts and had decided not to carry through with his plan.

Fletcher faced discharge from the Army if he was sentenced to immediate custody. He had been in a job entailing risks.

Judge Robert Juckes QC said Fletcher was a highly trained and qualified soldier serving in a regiment which was respected throughout the world. He had showed great courage in the duties he had carried out.

But he had made a plan because he was not ready for a family. It came undone when the parcel from abroad was intercepted by his partner.

The court was told that Fletcher was prosecuted under an 1861 Act which was designed to prevent women obtaining poison and to discourage interference with pregnancies.