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Disgruntled worker who drove digger into Travelodge after he 'wasn't paid' jailed

Will Taylor
News Reporter
John Manley, left, and the scene after he ploughed into the front of the Liverpool Travelodge last year. (Samuel White/PA)

A labourer who drove a digger into a Travelodge after his employer allegedly failed to pay him over Christmas has been jailed.

John Manley, 36, drove into the front of the hotel in Liverpool Innovation Park on 21 January, 2019, the day it was due to be completed, causing more than £443,000 worth of damage.

The father-of-two from St Aidan’s Way in Netherton admitted damaging property and and being reckless as to whether life is endangered last year.

He was sentenced to five years and four months behind bars at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday.

Judge David Aubrey QC said: “You were intent on maximum damage and you intended to leave a trail of destruction.”

He said Manley had caused “destruction in the extreme” and risked the safety of people inside and outside the building.

Watch John Manley drive into the Travelodge

John Manley drove a digger through the front of the Travelodge on 21 January last year. (Samuel White/PA)

Footage of the digger smashing into the reception of the Travelodge went viral after the rampage.

The digger is driven up to the front entrance and smashes through the windows before entering the lobby.

Shocked bystanders can be seen watching the carnage unfold, with colleagues trying to get Manley to stop as he shouts: “All you had to do was pay me.”

Manley’s defence lawyer Brendan Carville said at a previous hearing that the defendant had accepted he intended to cause the damage and described him as a “family man”.

He told the court: “There were social problems which caused this offence, notably the failure of his immediate employers to pay him over the Christmas period and asking him to work for nothing on the eve of this offence.

“He has two young children.”

The aftermath of the incident. (Samuel White/PA Wire)

Judge Aubrey said on Wednesday: “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.”

Trevor Parry-Jones, prosecuting, said Manley had effectively destroyed the lobby ceiling, wiring and structure.

He was stopped after two co-workers disconnected the fuel line to the vehicle, leaving one temporarily blinded as diesel sprayed in his face.

Parry-Jones said Manley caused “consequent misery” for hotel staff who were left in “limbo” during the six-week delay in opening.

Manley was employed by MF Groundworks, which was paid for work carried out on January 17 2019.

Site manager Peter Robinson, who worked for Remstone Property Management – which ran the site – saw Manley two days before the incident when the defendant threatened to lock himself in a hut for not being paid, Parry-Jones said.

Manley saw Robinson again on the day of the rampage and threatened to damage the building if he was not paid. Robinson assumed funds had not been cleared yet by MF Groundworks, the court was told.

Robinson made him a cup of tea and bought him a sandwich. Two hours later, Manley got into the digger, the court was told.

In defence, Mark Sharman told the court on Wednesday Manley could not afford electricity or food and said he had a “traumatic” and “emotionally scarring” childhood.

Manley was also banned from driving for four years and one month.