A Barossa Valley winemaker, who destroyed 27,000 litres of shiraz and chardonnay at a rival company, has been given a suspended jail sentence.
In February 2015, Trevor David Jones went to Kellermeister Wines at Lyndoch and opened valves to drain wine worth almost $300,000 from four of the company’s tanks.
Sentencing Jones in the district court in Adelaide on Thursday, Judge Jane Schammer jailed him for three years and seven months with a non-parole period of 18 months. But she suspended both terms, placing him on a two-year good behaviour bond.
Schammer said the 60-year-old’s offending was sparked by a breakdown in the relationship with his father, who had previously owned the winery.
Jones had also worked at Kellermeister as a winemaker before being sacked in 2010.
When he found out that his father had sold the business, his pre-existing mental health issues escalated and sparked his offending, the court heard.
Jones went to Kellermeister in the early hours of 22 February 2015 and opened the valves, spilling 13,580 litres of shiraz and almost 14,000 litres of chardonnay on to the ground.
In a previous hearing, the new owner of the winery said as well as the loss of the wine, his company had suffered reputational damage and a loss of business worth about $600,000-a-year.
In sentencing submissions, defence counsel Mark Griffin said his client’s offending was serious and wrong.
“But it had its origins in deep feelings of betrayal and treachery and the belief, rightly or wrongly, that he had become a worthless individual,” Griffin said.
The celebrity chef Maggie Beer appeared as a character witness for Jones and offered him ongoing support.
Jones accepted the terms of the bond but declined to comment as he left court.
Source: The Guardian – 9 November 2017