A GRIPPING criminal inquiry where police joined forces with the Daily Echo to catch a bomber and blackmailer will feature on national television on Thursday night.

ITV1’s Real Crime documentary, to be shown at 10.30pm, features Robert Dyer, who wreaked havoc in Dorset in 2001 when he sent explosive devices and threats to staff and customers of supermarket giant Tesco.

An undercover operation was launched between police and the Echo to print secret coded messages, which helped officers detain the 50-year-old father-of-two.

Dyer, then of Caroline Road, Kinson, sent explosive devices to customers and made threats to kill.

He had demanded that credit card-style loyalty cards were distributed to thousands of people through the Daily Echo. His intention was that all would be capable of being used at cashpoint machines but only he would know the PIN number.

His plan was to be able to withdraw unlimited money in transactions of £1,000 a time.

He was jailed in June 2001 for 16 years after admitting nine charges of blackmail and one of common assault, but this was not the first time he had hit the headlines.

Eight years earlier, Dyer’s wife had died in mysterious circumstances at their home. An inquest concluded Dyer suffered a heart attack as his wife strangled herself with a ligature after they had both been drinking.

After the case, then Detective Chief Inspector Phil James praised the Echo’s involvement, which had included printing coded messages to look like word searches.

He said: “This proves that trust can operate between the police and the media. Dorset Police would like to place on record their thanks for the assistance provided by the Daily Echo.”

The documentary has been filmed by Tern TV, a company with bases in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The company spent several days filming in Dorset.