A pensioner who waged a nine-week campaign of revenge against a supermarket by hiding pens in its food has been banned from the store.
Graham Hoodless, 68, contaminated meat, fish, cheese and cakes on the shelves of Asda in Peterborough, Cambs., by pushing small pens from a bookies into them.
The father took his revenge, which cost Asda almost £700, after he was wrongly accused of defacing newspapers in the store.
Peterborough Crown Court heard he waged a “repeated and sustained campaign” against the shop by sneaking the pens into packaging when staff were not looking.
Unwitting customers only discovered them when they started preparing their food to cook or eat.
He was only caught when suspicious store bosses spotted him on CCTV hovering by the Halal meat counter.
Hoodless, from Peterborough, Cambs., pleaded guilty to contaminating or infecting food with intent to cause public alarm.
During sentencing on December 17 Judge Sean Enright ordered the pen vandal to pay Asda £694.50 compensation – although some of this sum has already been paid back.
Anthony Hook, prosecuting, told the court: “The offences started in July this year. Staff started to find pens had been put into food stuff on the shelves.
“Others were found by customers when they got home with their shopping. Items contaminated included fish, bread, meat, cakes, cheese and ready meals.”
Mr Hook said the damage to the store’s reputation was “incalculable”.
Christopher Gillespie, defending, handed character references to the Judge, describing him as a “devoted family man”.
He said: “He is a man of previous good character, and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
“He was wrongly accused of defacing newspapers by the store manager, which he found utterly humiliating.
“This was the trigger for the offence, but he was already at the end of his tether.
“Hoodless’s mother died in May, his daughter had been involved in a car crash and his wife also suffered some medical problems as well.
“He simply snapped under the huge pressure he was under.”
Hoodless contaminated products on nine occasions between July 14 and September 27 when he was caught on CCTV near the Halal meat counter.
He was banned from the store for two years and given a one year supervision order.
An Asda spokesman said: “We take situations like this very seriously and are satisfied with the outcome.”