Animal lover Claire Proctor slashed the tyres of a tree surgeon’s van – because he was removing a tree where squirrels nested.
The 37-year-old verbally abused the victim as he worked in a garden behind her house, before taking a knife to his tyres.
Magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard the tree surgeon and a colleague had travelled from Wales to carry out the job at a property in Chell Heath.
The court heard he and a colleague had already attempted to remove the tree once – last autumn – but had to abandon the job because Proctor and a man from the same property had subjected them to ‘a barrage of abuse’.
Prosecutor Sue Hayers said: “They were reengaged to complete the job. The victim described being a bit anxious about this after what had happened before.
“At 9.20am he started using his chainsaw on the tree. About 30 seconds later the same male and female appeared from the neighbouring property again. Both were swearing towards the victim, saying, ‘Don’t f****** cut that tree down, there’s squirrels in there’. The injured party said he felt unsafe.
“He saw the female had a knife in her hand. She said, ‘I’m going to slash your f****** tyres’, and that is exactly what she did.
“Both front tyres and the offside rear tyre were flat.”
Proctor, formerly of Warren Road, Chell Heath, but now living in nearby Chell Heath Road, was arrested and interviewed. She told police she had unsuccessfully tried to get a tree protection order to stop the tree being cut down, as she was trying to protect the squirrels nesting in the tree.
She pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage following the incident on January 6. She had no previous convictions.
Paul Kay, mitigating, said: “In interview, Miss Proctor said, ‘I regret it, I was in a rage and was angry. I won’t be doing it again’.
“This is completely out of character. She was angry beyond all imagination about what was happening to this tree and the squirrels that nested there. She went over the top.”
Magistrates said they did not think Proctor would commit an offence again and handed her a 12-month conditional discharge. She must pay £500 compensation for the tyres, plus £157 in court costs and charges.