A tip worker went on a £300,000 JCB rampage, burning down a hut and mangling gates.
Trevor Lewis, 59, appeared in front of Calderdale Magistrates’ yesterday where he pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damage in relation to an incident at the Eastwood Recycling Centre on Saturday, July 19.
Without lawful excuse, Lewis, of Station Road, Mayroyd, Hebden Bridge, damaged and destroyed property belonging to Calderdale Council at the site to the value of £300,000 in a “systematic” rampage. Armed police and fire crews were sent to the site on Halifax Road during the dramatic incident, and watched on as Lewis - an employee of site contractor SITA UK - burned down a hut, and rammed fencing and stairways. Prosecuting, Vanessa Jones said: “It was on the morning of the 19th of July when the police were alerted that a male employee at the Eastwood recycling site was systematically damaging property there, including setting fire to a building.” Miss Jones said a £600,000 refurbishment of the recycling centre had been completed in January.
She said that Lewis, who had been suffering with a knee injury for 18 months, struggled with the new layout, steps and ramps were making it difficult for him to do his job.
“He tried to speak to his manager, but had not got anywhere with that,” she said.
Miss Jones said that the day before the incident a member of the public had made a complaint about Lewis.
“He bought £15 of red diesel and had it in his mind to burn the workers’ hut down,” she said.
“He left early that morning and actually changed the padlocks on the three gates to stop people coming in so they didn’t get injured. But that’s mitigation.”
Defending, Malcolm Nowell said: “I have had some discussions with Mr Lewis and other members of his family and I’m satisfied that this is a genuine plea made in good faith.
“There may be other issues to be addressed in due course and they will be addressed at the Crown Court. Enquiries are being made to present a compelling case to the Crown Court.”
Lewis, who wore a black shirt, navy blue jacket and black trousers, spoke only to confirm his name and enter a plea. He was accompanied to the court by a family member.
Chairman of Magistrates John Smith said the seriousness of the case meant it was beyond his powers of sentencing and he sent it to be dealt with at Bradford Crown Court.
Lewis, who was given unconditional bail, will next appear at Bradford Crown Court for sentencing on Wednesday, August 27.
The recycling centre will be closed until at least November as repair works are carried out.