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Whoops of joy as builder demolished new houses

‘Pure act of revenge’: The digger left by the wrecked homes in Hertfordshire PICTURE: PA

A BUILDER who filmed himself destroying five new retirement homes with a digger has been jailed for four years.

Daniel Neagu shouted ‘whoop whoop’ in delight and blasted music from a radio as he caused more than £850,000 damage to the houses in a row over unpaid wages.

Footage of the 31-year-old’s 40-minute rampage, filmed on a GoPro camera and iPhone, was played to the court and showed him whistling the tune to Freed From Desire, ranting in Romanian and repeatedly ramming his digger into the properties, which were marketed at up to £475,000 each.

In one clip he tells a passer-by, who encourages him to smash another house, that he is owed £16,000, adding: ‘I decided even if get in trouble I did it for a reason, because I didn’t get paid, you know what I mean?’

As he destroys the buildings in , Buntingford, Hertfordshire, Neagu says: ‘Beautiful houses, you have to take it down and rebuild it, that’s because you didn’t want to pay me.’

Sentencing Neagu (pictured) at St Albans crown court yesterday, Judge Stephen Warner called the rampage, on August 11 last year, ‘wholesale destruction’ and a ‘pure act of revenge’.

He said the footage was ‘truly shocking’, adding: ‘It’s quite clear from your demeanour you were perfectly relaxed and quite unashamed.’ The judge also said onlookers who encouraged Neagu ‘should be ashamed of their conduct’.

Prosecutor Richard Hutchings said one woman saw ‘the scoop of the digger going into a house and pulling the house down’. When she called the police Neagu calmly shouted: ‘Have you phoned the police?’

The Romanian nat-ional, who could be deported on his release, told police his firm, Danny Boy Limited, was owed money by a company called Fentons and he had been forced to pay his workers £3,000 of his own money. He said his employees had threatened ‘to do something wrong’ to his family.

The cost of the destruction did not include rebuilding the two- and three-bedroom houses, built by McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living, which was covered by insurers.

Neagu, of Harrow, north-west London, had denied criminal damage but changed his plea before a trial in January.

Andrew Campbell, defending, said Neagu, who earned about £35,000 a year, was ‘provoked’ and called a ‘midget and a gypsy’ by bosses whom he confronted about payment.

He said he acted ‘as a public demonstration that he had not been paid’, adding: ‘There’s a strange sort of logic in it, but there’s a logic in it.’