Disgruntled golfer destroys green using watering can of glyphosate

Disgruntled golfer, 55, who was banned from his local club in row with owners poured weed killer on greens in revenge attack causing £16,000 worth of damage

  • Glen Newton struck at night, wearing a balaclava and armed with herbicide
  • Woolley Park Golf Club, in West Yorkshire, suffered £16,000 worth of damage 
  • Newton was caught on CCTV, chased down by owners and unmasked 
  • The vandal was handed a four-month suspended sentence and paid damages

A disgruntled golfer waged war on a club by destroying its greens with weed killer after he was barred from playing the course, a court heard.

Glen Newton, 55, was furious after losing his membership at Woolley Park Golf Club, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

So the former miner donned a balaclava and launched a campaign of sabotage on the pristine grass – causing £16,000 worth of damage. 

Armed with a watering can full of liquid glyphosate he poured the chemical on the greens under the cover of darkness, before he was caught red handed and unmasked by the course’s owners.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Newton had ‘issues’ with the club owners that led to the termination of his membership in early 2020.

Prosecutor Charlotte Noddings said Newton had clashed with the owners over his behaviour towards club staff and that no other members wished to play golf with him.

On the evening of April 19 this year, the groundskeeper John Rowbottom, 33, spotted the masked man on the third green over the club’s newly installed CCTV, and he quickly jumped into his car, together with his father Philip Rowbottom to reach the golf course just a few hundred metres away.

Masked Glen Newton snuck into Woolley Park Golf Club under the cover of darkness, wielding a watering can full of glyphosate, which he used to wreak destruction

Woolley Park Golf Club owner Philip Rowbottom, 61, said his damaged greens ended up looking like ‘a patchwork quilt’ following the attack, perpetrated by an ex-member with an axe to grind

Groundskeeper John Rowbottom, 33, and his father, Philip Rowbottom, chased the golf course vandal down after spotting him on CCTV. When they pulled off his balaclava, they revealed him to be Glen Newton, a shunned member of the course with bad blood against its owners

Glen Newton tried to renew his membership with Woolley Park Golf Club after six years with the club, but owner Philip Rowbottom refused, saying his behaviour was ‘difficult and bullying’ with staff and members

Newton tried to run off but slipped into the path of the vehicle, causing a collision.

The groundskeeper then got out and chased him on foot, catching up with him and managing to rip the balaclava from his head while filming him on his phone.

‘He had been a member with us for six or seven years, and had been okay at first, but had then started to upset other club members and staff. He was difficult and bullying. 

Woolley Park Golf Club owner Philip Rowbottom, 61, said: ‘Newton was very annoyed with us after we didn’t let him renew his membership. 

‘After that the greens started to suffer a series of attacks – four in total.

‘The first vandalism happened in February 2020, shortly before the first lockdown. We noticed damage to the green and realised it had been attacked with weed killer, which Newton must have poured on a week before because glyphosate takes that long to take effect.

‘It happened twice more, once on the fourth and again on the third green – the ones closest to a main road, where you can just park up and jump over a fence.

‘It was the same MO every time, the same pattern of damage on the green, poured out of a watering can.

‘I knew who it was and reported the damage to police but, bless their cotton socks, they said they couldn’t do anything without evidence.’

West Yorkshire police advised Mr Rowbottom to install expensive CCTV cameras at the site, a mile from the nearest electricity point, which he did.

The course, which was established 27 years ago, is a ‘work in progress’ but the attacks had left the damaged greens looking like ‘a patchwork quilt’.

Mr Rowbottom said: ‘When we finally caught him the CCTV alerted us to an intruder and I could tell it was him on the cameras by the way he walked. He had a balaclava on and was carrying a watering can. It was 8.45pm and getting dark.

‘Me and my son raced down and caught him red handed.’

Newton, of Netherfield Crescent, Netherton, about six miles from Woolley Park Golf Club, was arrested and made full admissions.

Glen Newton, 55, was handed a three-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £10,000 compensation

He pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage, but he did dispute the repair costs presented by the golf club, which came to £15,837. 

The judge, Recorder Dafydd Enoch QC, dismissed his claims. 

Newton only claimed ownership of the fourth and final act of golf course vandalism, denying he had anything to do with the first three incidents. 

The total cost of all four acts of herbicide-fuelled destruction came to £80,000.  

Little mitigation was put to the court by his barrister, Joanne Shepherd, after Recorder Enoch described him as a ‘difficult member’ who had simply ‘made a nuisance of himself and went too far’.

Recorder Enoch told Newton: ‘I do not know what possessed you to behave in that way.

‘I’m sure there’s two sides to every story, there almost always is.

‘But the fact is you took the law into your own hands and in a completely planned and premeditated way, you decided you were going to seriously damage these people’s green.

‘You obtained the equipment and you disguised yourself. You caused great distress to the person who faced you.

‘The result is that you did what you set out to do, which was to cause serious damage.’

Newton was given three-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £10,000 compensation.

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