‘I’ve forgiven the woman who trashed my business’ says owner of wedding shop near Leamington
John Stott, who runs the Wedding Barn, in Ufton, with his son Daniel, said: “We were shocked and horrified at what she had done.
“But I’ve forgiven her. I feel sorry for her. She is not a bad person. She needs help.
“We’ve moved on and want to assure customers and others that nobody was let down and that the business continues to grow at full strength.”
Christine Arnold, aged 53, of Henry Street, Kenilworth, had pleaded guilty to a charge of causing criminal damage when she appeared at Warwick Crown Court.
Despite spraying gold paint on more than 80 dresses and smashing computers and pictures, she was not jailed.
Arnold was sentenced to 12 months prison suspended for two years with 12 months supervision and ordered to take part in a women’s programme.
The court heard that Arnold had a drink problem and since her rampage has been convicted of being drunk in charge of a car and driving with excess alcohol.
Arnold had claimed that she had not been paid for work carried out at the Wedding Barn, a one-stop shop for weddings, including vintage Rolls-Royce hire, clothes and photos.
But Mr Stott,aged 56, who said he had known Arnold since his teenage days, stated that she was not employed by his business – she worked with her sister who had a couture wedding dress concession at the premises.
The rampage happened on December 27 and fortunately for Mr Stott his insurance covered the damage, except for a £1,500 excess.
The court head that Arnold had smashed her way through a five-bar gate in her car and an employee described her as “very drunk and very aggressive”.
Amy Jacobs, defending, hand-ed in a letter to Arnold from her mother, and her reply.
Recorder John Taylor said: “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.”
Miss Jacobs added that Arnold’s finances were “dire”, and although she had two properties rented 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, drove there and caused horrific damage, absolutely trashing it.
“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 [alcohol] problem and address it.”