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Saxmundham man spared jail after admitting to burning down bus shelter

PUBLISHED: 05:30 30 October 2019

The bus shelter in Wickham Market has been destroyed by fire Picture: JULIAN EVANS

The bus shelter in Wickham Market has been destroyed by fire Picture: JULIAN EVANS

Julian Evans

Locals have been left 'disappointed' after a man who went on the rampage in a Suffolk village and burnt down a recently renovated bus shelter causing £13,000 damage was spared jail time.

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANTIpswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Locals have been left 'disappointed' after a man who went on the rampage in a Suffolk village and burnt down a recently renovated bus shelter causing £13,000 damage was spared jail time.

Kurtis Gardiner, 27, who admitted to arson, three offences of criminal damage and assault causing actual bodily harm, was sentenced to a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, 200 hours unpaid work, a four month curfew between 8pm and 6am and a 40 day rehabilitation activity requirement at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday (October 29).

Sentencing Judge David Pugh said: "After drinking you considered it appropriate to behave in a decidedly antisocial manner causing damage to property around the centre of Wickham Market."

He said that in addition to causing damage to the bus shelter and a flagpole in Wickham Market in July last year Gardiner had hit a 66-year-old man in the face with a shopping basket the following day.

Judge Pugh said the offences would normally result in an immediate prison sentence but he felt able to suspend the sentence because Gardiner's previous offending was eight years ago and he hadn't reoffended since the offences in July last year.

Dick Jenkinson, Chairman of Wickham Market Parish Council said that the sentence did not reflect the lasting effect the crime had on residents.

He said: "It wasn't just the damage to the new bus shelter it was the trees next to it and Christmas lights which have had to be repaired.

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"These crimes had a long lasting effect on the local community. I'm disappointed with the sentence, but I am not surprised."

In addition to the suspended sentence, Gardiner, of Montagu Drive, Saxmundham, was also banned from contacting the victim of the assault for three years.

Nicola May, prosecuting, said Gardiner's vandalism spree began on the evening of July 9 when he stood on a plant pot and attempted to tear down a flag flying outside a dental practice.

After snapping the flagpole he removed a gold ball from the top and drop kicked it into a wall.

He then tried to put the broken pole down a drain before yanking a cable from the wall of a nearby property and breaking the wing mirror of a car,

Gardiner, who had been drinking, then used a cigarette lighter to set fire to a plastic window in the recently renovated bus shelter on Market Hill causing £13,473.90 damage.

The following day Gardiner had hit a 66-year-old man in the face with a plastic shopping basket outside a shop in Woodbridge and had then pushed and punched him leaving him with a cut to his forehead which needed four stitches.

Steven Dyble, for Gardiner, said his client had mental health issues and had been drinking on the night of the arson and criminal damage offences.

He said Gardiner was terrified of going to prison and had sought help for his mental health problems.

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