Chef causes £13,000 of damage to pub in wage dispute 'revenge attack'

07 April 2022 by
Chef causes £13,000 of damage to pub in wage dispute 'revenge attack'

A chef locked in a wages dispute caused £13,000 worth of damage to a north Wales pub in what a judge has branded a "revenge attack".

Graeme McLaughlin superglued doors, spray-painted smiley faces on walls, opened pumps so beer poured onto a bar floor and left taps running, causing a ceiling to collapse.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal damage and has been given a 20-month jail term suspended for 20 months.

Prosecutor Jade Tufail said McLaughlin, then head chef of the Saracen's Head in Beddgelert, had asked the pub's owners, Valerie Thomas and David Cattrall, for him to be paid for hours he claimed he worked in 2020. Following a "difficult" discussion McLaughlin was demoted from head chef to sous chef.

He later told staff that if he didn't get the money he would "smash up" the premises. In September 2020, he left a note with the message: "To Valerie. You're a c***."

The following day Thomas found her Mercedes' rear window had been smashed and the side scratched with a key.

The court heard the defendant had gone to Wilko in Porthmadog to buy superglue, paint and a bar to prise open doors. Soon afterwards, staff at the Saracen's Head found door locks had been superglued and smiley faces had been daubed on the walls in black spray paint.

Five draught beer pumps had been left running, flooding the bar floor, and tills, two card payment machines and an Apple Mac had been broken. Cattrall's Ford Mondeo was also damaged and a tyre punctured.

At another pub owned by Thomas and Cattrall, the Brondanw Arms, upstairs taps had been left running until the weight of water caused part of a ceiling to collapse.

McLaughlin was arrested by West Mercia Police on 19 September 2020. He denied causing criminal damage but later admitted the offences.

Richard Edwards, mitigating, said the defendant accepted he tried to resolve the ongoing dispute in the "wrong way" and should have gone through the proper channels.

He added that alcohol had been a significant problem for McLaughlin since the death of his mother, when he was 14, but the court heard he has now stopped drinking.

Report by David Powell

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