Liverpool

Liverpool Travelodge: Digger driver jailed for rampage

John Manley Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption John Manley said his employers had failed to pay him over Christmas

A digger driver who smashed up the entrance of a new hotel because he was owed £600 in wages has been jailed.

John Manley, of Netherton, Merseyside, left a "trail of destruction" at the Travelodge in Liverpool on the day work was due to finish.

He caused more than £443,000 worth of damage to the front door, reception desk and windows during the rampage in January 2019 which went viral.

At Liverpool Crown Court, he was jailed for five years and four months.

Manley, 36, of St Aidan's Way, previously admitted damaging property and being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Videos of the destruction showed colleagues asking Manley to stop as he shouted: "All you had to do was pay me."

'Like a volcano'

Sentencing, Judge David Aubrey QC said Manley was "intent on maximum damage and intended to leave a trail of destruction".

He said Manley had caused "destruction in the extreme" and put the safety of those inside and outside the building at risk.

The judge accepted Manley, who was reported to have "social problems", had a number of issues in his life.

"This grievance, or perceived grievance, in consequence of the fact you had not been paid your wages, may well have been the catalyst which led you on this day to erupt like a volcano."

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Media captionDigger driver wrecks hotel reception

The court previously heard Manley had "intended to cause the damage" as he had not been paid over the Christmas period.

The site was run by Remstone Property Management but Manley was employed by contractor MF Groundworks - which received payment for work carried out on 17 January.

Site manager Peter Robinson said he saw Manley twice in the days before the rampage and he had threatened to barricade himself in a hut and damage the building if he was not paid.

Trevor Parry-Jones, prosecuting, said: "[Mr Robinson] believed this was a threat that would not be carried out, made him a cup of tea and bought him a sandwich."

But two hours after a meeting on 21 January, Manley got into the digger and effectively destroyed the ceiling, wiring and structure of the building after ploughing through the front doors.

Mark Sharman, defending, said father-of-two Manley could not afford electricity or to buy food because he had not been paid, and so he could not have his children over to stay.

Image copyright Samuel White/PA
Image caption The destruction was filmed by several witnesses on mobile phones

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