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Sacked worker took revenge on Findhorn Foundation by torching buildings

Joseph Clark destroyed two buildings at the Findhorn Foundation
Joseph Clark destroyed two buildings at the Findhorn Foundation

A man burned down buildings at a Moray eco-village and caused £400,000 of damage in revenge for being made redundant.

Joseph Clark, who had been employed by the Findhorn Foundation for 16 years, torched the community centre he managed and another building earlier this year.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard the 49-year-old was to be made jobless and homeless on the day he reduced the buildings to rubble.

A cleaner spotted the flames about 2am on April 12 and alerted the emergency services.

A total of 10 fire appliances tackled the blaze and, with the help of low wind, managed to prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings, fiscal depute Martina Eastwood said.

The remains of the community centre at the Findhorn Foundation.

As firefighters tackled the inferno, Clark turned up at Forres Police Station to turn himself in. He couldn’t gain access but spoke into the intercom.

‘I have burned down two buildings’

A police vehicle then arrived with two police officers.

Ms Eastwood added: “They were flagged down by the accused. He approached them and stated he wished to hand himself in.

“He said ‘My name is Joseph Clark. I used to be employed by Findhorn Foundation and I have burned down two buildings’.”

Clark, described as an Inverness prisoner, appeared from custody and admitted wilful fire-raising.

Flames burned the Moray enclave’s community centre and main meditation sanctuary to the ground, leaving only charred supporting pillars and an external staircase.

The striking wooden hexagonal community centre building was home to large communal lunches and dinners with residents, shared Sunday singing sessions and workshops.

Sentence was deferred by Sheriff Eilidh Macdonald until August 16 for a background report.

Clark’s lawyer, Stephen Carty, said his client had instructed him not to apply for bail.

Mr Carty said that the Foundation had also written a letter of reference for his client and he handed it over to the bench.

In a statement following today’s court appearance, a spokeswoman for the Findhorn Foundation said: “Joseph Clark joined the Findhorn Foundation in June 2005 and has worked at two of our sites, at Cluny Hill in Forres and at The Park in Findhorn in our homecare department.

“Due to Scottish Government Covid-19 restrictions forcing a prolonged closure of our residential programmes, Joseph’s post was made redundant and he left our employment on 22 February 2021.

“He was due to leave his Findhorn Foundation accommodation on 12 April. Along with all other residential co-workers whose posts were being made redundant, Joseph received an enhanced redundancy payment from the Foundation and was given the opportunity to apply to the special fund for residential coworkers.

“Support was also offered on an emotional and practical level, for example, support from our in-house counselling service and assistance with finding accommodation.

“Our understanding was that he was going away for a few weeks and then he had secured accommodation in the local area.

“Joseph was well-known in the community and a familiar figure in and around the
Community Centre. Although we were aware that Joseph was unhappy with his post
being made redundant, we were deeply shocked and saddened when we heard that
Joseph was charged with this serious offence.

“We hold Joseph with compassion.”

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