A man has been sentenced to four years in prison after he used a digger to destroy five new houses in a dispute over wages.

Daniel Neagu, 31, of Athelstone Road, Harrow, partly tore down several new properties at a Buntingford housing development in August last year causing £4 million in damage.

He said it was in retaliation for being dismissed weeks prior without being paid.

Neagu pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday (March 5), where he was jailed for four years.

The court heard how Neagu, a former plant operator, used a digger to rip down five homes in Royal Gardens, a new housing development off Ermine Street.

When neighbours noticed what was happening, they called police who detained Neagu.

He had been working at the site before being let go alongside several colleagues a few weeks prior.

Detective Constable Shaun Turner, from the East Herts Local Crime Unit, said: “Three three-bedroom properties and two two-bedroom properties were affected by Neagu’s deliberate act of destruction, with the total cost of the damage estimated to be in the region of £4million.

“The incident had a lasting impact on the local community as a number of the properties were nearing completion and their new owners were weeks away from moving in. However, after assessment, the structural damage was deemed to be too severe, so the affected properties had to be demolished and rebuilt, which took months.”