Builder Daniel Neagu has been sentenced to four years in jail after he demolished five new-build retirement bungalows – each worth more than £425,000.
The builder was fired in August before ramming a digger into the McCarthy and Stone retirement cottages at Royal Gardens in Buntingford, Hertfordshire, in a 40-minute frenzy.
Neagu, a 31-year-old Romanian national, filmed himself using a GoPro camera and iPhone, showing him destroying the houses which were only weeks away from being occupied.
Originally, he denied the damage claiming his firm, Danny Boy, was owed £16,000 by a sub-contractor building firm, Fentons.
According to reports, a member of the public declared the builder had said: “I had guys working for me. They haven’t paid me. I decided even if I got into trouble I did it for a reason. I don’t blame you for calling the police.
“They ask for £400,000 for these homes. They do not have £16,000 to pay me. I wanted to give them a lesson.”
When he was charged, the prosecutor said that was a reference to him being safer in custody rather than free, because of the threats he was receiving.
Weeks from moving in
Neagu (pictured), from Harrow in London, said he had been forced to pay his workers £3,000 from his own money for their work.
Detective Constable Shaun Turner, from the East Herts Local Crime Unit, said three three-bedroom properties and two two-bedroom properties were affected by Neagu’s deliberate act of destruction, with the total cost of the damage estimated to be in the region of £4m.
He added: “The incident had a lasting impact on the local community as a number of the properties were nearing completion and their new owners were weeks away from moving in.
“However after assessment, the structural damage was deemed to be too severe so the affected properties had to be demolished and rebuilt, which took months.”
He had no previous convictions in the UK or Romania before being sentenced at St Albans Crown Court yesterday.