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‘A betrayal to the community’: Findhorn firestarter sentenced for act of revenge

Joseph Clark destroyed two buildings at the Findhorn Foundation

A man who set fire to two buildings at the Findhorn Foundation in revenge for being made redundant has been freed after spending over four months in custody.

Joseph Clark, who caused an estimated £400,000 worth of damage by burning down the community centre and an adjacent building, had been remanded since April 13 this year, the day after the blaze at the eco-village.

He handed himself in to police and told his defence lawyer Stephen Carty not to apply for bail.

The fire destroyed two buildings at the Findhorn Foundation

The 49-year-old is now out of custody but Sheriff Eilidh Macdonald ordered him to carry out 300 hours of unpaid community work and placed him on three years’ social work supervision.

The court had been previously been told that Clark was informed in December 2020 that he would be made redundant in April this year after 16 years service at the Moray community.

But on April 12, he set fire to the centre and the Sanctuary, reducing them both to rubble after the roofs and walls collapsed.

Clark flagged down police vehicle

Mr Carty said: “Alcohol was involved and his memory of matters is poor. But he accepts he was involved in this.”

A cleaner spotted the flames about 2am 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 told the court.

Clark flagged down a police vehicle to give himself up after being unable to gain access to the local police station.

She told him that an additional punishment was necessary but decided against extending his period in prison.

Sheriff Macdonald said: “This is a very serious offence which was carried out deliberately and was a betrayal of the community you worked with for many years.

“It was dangerous and you put the lives of the people who live there and the emergency services who attended at risk.

“It also caused considerable distress and inconvenience to the people there as well as a significant financial loss. But I have taken into account that you are a first offender, that you handed yourself into police and the time you have spent on remand.”

 

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