Sacked Saffron Walden Oxfam volunteer takes revenge on manager’s flowers

Oxfam Saffron Walden

Oxfam Saffron Walden - Credit: Archant

A disgruntled charity worker took revenge on his former manager after being sacked by pouring weed killer on her pot plants.

Steven Rowlandson, 61, was dismissed from his long-standing role as a volunteer at the Saffron Walden Oxfam shop in King Street by manager Lucy Heyburn because he damaged stock.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard how in revenge Rowlandson twice poured weed killer on Ms Heyburn’s plants outside her house in Museum Street.

But the divorced father-of-two, of Goddard Way, Saffron Walden, was caught on CCTV.

He pleaded guilty to criminally damaging plants, worth an estimated £200, between July 1 and July 7 this year.

Magistrates fined him £150, and ordered him to pay £200 in compensation and £115 court costs.

The magistrates also made a restraining order banning Rowlandson, an alcoholic, from contacting Ms Heyburn in any way or going to Museum Street or the Oxfam shop for 12 months.

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Prosecutor Angela Hughes said Ms Heyburn dismissed Rowlandson because of “difficulties and an incident of criminal damage in the store”.

She told the court at around 5am on July 1 a substance was poured on flowers outside Ms Heyburn’s home, and again on July 7. The plants turned brown and died.

Rowlandson told police he probably used weed killer but he didn’t remember much about it because he had been drinking.

In November last year, he damaged an Oxfam window by throwing white paint over it and last December he damaged a bicycle inner tube and had a bladed article in the store.

In June this year, he was also fined for damaging shop items and possessing a knife when arrested on the premises.

Chairman of the bench Jeremy Batchelor told Rowlandson: “This needs to stop. Put it behind you and don’t have anything to do with these folks again.”

Sarah Steggles, mitigating, said Rowlandson had worked in the Oxfam shop for years and had struggled with punctuality and his duties because of his alcoholism.

Miss Steggles said: “It was a big part of his life and he has found it very difficult to re-adjust and that’s how it’s manifested itself. He’s not let the matter go.”

She added Rowlandson had not drunk since the end of August.

The court heard that Rowlandson was alcohol-free during the five-and-a-half years he worked continuously for Oxfam until July 2015.

He returned as a volunteer in October last year but began drinking again and was suspended. He was told in March this year he was no longer required.

He took it badly and felt he had been let down. He and Ms Heyburn had originally been friends and he had been a witness at her wedding.