A crazed farm worker is facing jail for slashing his former employer’s hay bales in the dead of night - in a rampage which cost her thousands of pounds.
William Finlay, 33, went to the farm of Bozena Bienkowska, 52, and slashed 44 bales of prepackaged haylage - wet fermented grass which can be eaten by animals in winter.
Finlay denied he had anything to do with the September 2017 sabotage, which left Miss Bienkowska more than £5,000 out of pocket.
But he left an empty pouch of tobacco and can of juice at the scene - and a fingerprint on one of the bales.
And the clues led to Finlay being detained and charged over the vandalism - and convicted at Paisley Sheriff Court.
Giving evidence about the incident at Finlay’s trial, Miss Bienkowska, who owns the Foreside Farm in Neilston, East Renfrewshire, said: “Our bales of haylage were vandalised.
“Haylage has a high percentage of moisture inside and it’s wrapped in plastic so it pickles.
“No air can get in to it or it gets spoilage.”
She said they “finished up” on the farm at about 9pm on September 1, 2017, and that the bales “were fine.”
But she said she saw them about 10am the following morning - and noticed they’d been sabotaged.
She explained: “44 of them had been slashed.
“I phoned the farm and told Michael, ny partner, we also phoned the police and the insurance company.
“There were multiple slashes on each bale, some had been attacked as well - it looked like someone had tried to pull the stuff out of them.”
She said the bales had been laid out in a pyramid and that every one on the outside of the bottom and second bottom tiers had been trashed.
And she said signs at the scene made her think Finlay was responsible - and that he phoned her after she’d phoned his dad to tell him about it.
She explained: “There was a can of juice and a tobacco wrapped lying around - they’d been thrown away because they were empty.
“I know they’re the brand of tobacco and drinks that he drinks.
“That night I received a phone call from Mr Finlay.
“He said, ‘I understand you think I striped your bales’ - striped was the pattern.
“He told me if I told police he didn’t do it he’d plead guilty to the stalking charges [in another case].”
And Miss Bienkowska said the vandalism damaged haylage worth £3,000 and cost them a further £2,500 because they had to buy 50 bales at £50 each as they were unable to cut another field and make more haylage as they were clearing up the bales that had been damaged.
Defence solicitor Amy Spencer asked Sheriff Colin Pettigrew to acquit Finlay of the two charges he faced - breaching bail conditions by entering the farm while banned from being there and maliciously damaging the bales.
The lawyer said it could be coincidence that the brand of tobacco he smoked and type of juice he drank was found at the scene and said the fingerprint could have been on the bale wrapping from when he worked there.
But Sheriff Pettigrew said: “There’s too many coincidences - I’m in no doubt the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt.”
The sheriff called for background reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing and adjourned the case until next month.