Man, 50, hauled before the courts for £18k wrecking spree at Sheffield bar over dispute about unpaid bill

A 50-year-old man has been hauled before the courts for causing thousands of pounds of damage to a Sheffield bar over a dispute about an unpaid bill.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 4:10 pm
Updated Monday, 28th October 2019, 12:28 pm
The interior of Queer Junction

Richard Milner’s ‘professional company’ was contracted to do work for the Queer Junction bar on the Moor at the beginning of this year, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

He became embroiled in a dispute with the owner over a bill of £9,000 that he claimed had not been paid.

Prosecutor David Wain said a meeting took place between Milner and the owner to try and resolve the issue, but was unsuccessful.

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“The defendant sent a number of emails threatening to do damage to the property,” Mr Wain said.

Following this, Milner, of Ketton Avenue, Norton Lees, went to the bar at around 7.30pm on March 27 this year, and demanded to speak to the owner.

“The lone member of staff said he was unable to get hold of him [the manager] at which point the defendant said: ‘Well, I have to smash the place up’ and proceeded to push his way behind the bar,” Mr Wain said.

Milner then embarked upon a wrecking spree which saw him break all of the windows in the bar, smash a television and leave holes in the walls, after he threw a number of items, including glasses, at them.

Mr Wain said the total amount of damage caused by Milner was valued at £18,200.

The barman said he was ‘in fear throughout the incident’ in a statement submitted to the court.

“I was absolutely terrified for my life. I genuinely thought I was going to end up in hospital. I felt scared to be in the bar on my own with this male,” the man said.

Milner pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage to property valued at over £5,000 at an earlier hearing.

Ian Goldsack, defending, said Milner’s business folded within a couple of weeks of the incident ‘as a result of the lack of payment’.

He said Milner had subsequently set up a new business, which is in the early stages, but said he is now in a position where invoices are starting to be paid.

Referring to the barman’s statement, Mr Goldsack said: “He is extremely sorry. [Frightening him] wasn’t his intention, and he never would have intended for any harm to come to the gentleman.”

He added: “I have made him aware of the figure that has been put forward by the owner through the damage caused. He doesn’t seek to go behind that figure and will pay it in full.”

Judge David Dixon sentenced Milner to 10 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered him to complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and ordered him to pay £18,200 in compensation within the next four months.

“Your business was doing alright, and would have been fine if you had been paid. But not being paid is not a reason to go around causing merry hell,” Judge Dixon said.

He added: “Imagine what you would have felt like if someone had come to your business and treated your employees in such a way.”

Judge Dixon also ordered a restraining order which prohibits Milner from contacting the owner of Queer Junction for five years.

Queer Junction was opened in July 2018 beside the city’s landmark gay bar, Dempsey’s, both of which are part of the city’s expanding gay quarter.