A drunken woman went on a rampage of destruction in a wedding shop where she had worked, spraying gold paint on more than 80 dresses and smashing computers and pictures.
But despite causing more than £60,000 of damage as she trashed the business, Christine Arnold walked free from Warwick Crown Court.
Arnold, 53, of Henry Street, Kenilworth, had pleaded guilty to a charge of causing criminal damage at the Wedding Barn business in Ufton near Leamington.
She was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years with 12 months supervision, and was ordered to take part in a women’s programme.
Prosecutor Kathryn Roughton said the Wedding Barn is a company run by John Stott which provides wedding services from its Ufton premises, where Arnold worked for some time last year.
On December 27 the police received a call from the company’s chauffeur to report that Arnold was at the premises and was smashing the place up.
She had arrived there in a car and had smashed through the wooden gates to get to the Wedding Barn, where the chauffeur described her as being ‘very drunk and very aggressive.’
Once inside she had caused as much damage as she could, using a hammer she had taken with her to smash computers, photo frames, a mirror and furniture.
Arnold, who had also gone armed with a can of spray paint and a pair of scissors, then sprayed dozens of wedding dresses with gold paint.
Altogether she caused £63,268 worth of damage during what the judge described as her ‘horrendous’ rampage.
But fortunately for the Wedding Barn, its insurers are meeting the cost of the damage, with the exception of a £1,500 excess, in stage payments.
Arnold left in her car before the police arrived and had driven to the home of a friend who then went to the Wedding Barn while officers were there and told them she had gone to his place where she had had more to drink.
When she was then arrested Arnold, echoing a note she had left at the scene, told officers: “They’ve been f***ing my head. No-one f***s with me.”
She said she had worked there through her sister for about six months and had never been paid, claiming that because she did not have a formal contract they did not pay her.
Arnold added that she had left home intending to carry out the damage, and had sprayed 80 or 90 wedding dresses.
Mrs Roughton added that although she had no previous convictions, since her rampage Arnold has been convicted of being drunk in charge of a car and driving with excess alcohol.
Amy Jacobs, defending, handed in a number of documents including a letter to Arnold from her mother, and her reply.
Recorder John Taylor commented: “I’m concerned about the reply she wrote to her mother that she doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. She doesn’t show any remorse; and a lot of blame is put on other people.”
Miss Jacobs said: “Altogether they paint a sorry picture of a woman in crisis. But she has been engaging with the Recovery Partnership and is getting her drinking under control.”
She said the offence arose because Arnold, who also had a job working in the financial services industry, was working at the Wedding Barn part-time.
Her sister had a business making wedding dresses, and she and her sister were running the wedding dress department at the Wedding Barn, but ‘she was not paid for the months of work she had put in.’
Miss Jacobs added that Arnold’s finances are ‘dire,’ and although she has two properties which she rents out, the income from them only covers the mortgage payments.
Sentencing Arnold, Recorder Taylor told her: “This was a horrific incident. One only has to look at the photographs to see that. You had some dispute with John Stott, but that was no excuse for your behaviour.
“You stoked yourself up with alcohol and you drove there and caused horrific damage, absolutely trashing it. You created mayhem and caused a considerable amount of distress.
“You richly deserve to go to prison, but I’m not going to send you to prison immediately. You need to face up to this problem and address it.”