Builder pleads guilty to wrecking row of newly built houses in retirement village

A builder has pleaded guilty to using a digger to damage a row of newly built retirement homes.

Daniel Neagu, 31, was charged with criminal damage after five houses belonging to McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living were ruined in Buntingford, Hertfordshire, on August 11.

The homes were worth approximately £800,000 each and had their external walls torn out, leaving debris strewn across the gardens.

A turquoise digger was left standing next to the damage.

Owners were due to move into the unoccupied bungalows within weeks, McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living previously said.

Neagu had pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal damage at a preliminary hearing at St Albans Crown Court in September.

However the court said that Neagu had changed his plea to guilty for one count of criminal damage on January 15.

Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “The investigating officer was informed of the change of plea late last week.”

The McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living spokeswoman said: “The five affected properties at Royal Gardens in Buntingford were demolished last year, following inspections carried out by independent structural engineers in the days following the incident.”

New residents will be moving into homes rebuilt on the site in “the next few months”, she said, adding: “We are grateful to them and their families for their patience and understanding throughout.”.

McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living did not directly employ Neagu, who instead worked for a subcontractor, the spokeswoman said.

Neagu, a Romanian national living in Athelstone Road, Harrow, north-west London, is due to be sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on February 11.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) John Stillwell / PA Wire.