Findhorn Foundation employee who set fire to two buildings is freed from jail
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A FINDHORN Foundation employee who set fire to two of the organisation's buildings after being made redundant has been freed from jail.
Joseph Clark (49), who caused an estimated £400,000 worth of damage by burning down the community centre and an adjacent building, had been remanded in custody since April 13, the day after the blaze at the eco-village.
He handed himself into police after causing the fire and told his defence lawyer Stephen Carty not to apply for bail.
After Clark, who is homeless, was liberated by Sheriff Eilidh Macdonald on Monday, August 16, he was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid community work and placed on social work supervision for three years.
The Sheriff told him that additional punishment was necessary but decided against extending his period in prison.
She said: "This is a very serious offence which was carried out deliberately and was a betrayal of the community you worked with for many years.
"It was dangerous and you put the lives of the people who live there and the emergency services who attended at risk.
"It also caused considerable distress and inconvenience to the people there as well as a significant financial loss.
"But I have taken into account that you are a first offender, that you handed yourself into police and the time you have spent on remand."
The Sheriff said she could have sentenced Clark to an additional period in prison, but decided further punishment could be imposed by way of a community payback order.
Mr Carty had pleaded with the Sheriff to deal with his client in this way.
The Findhorn Foundation themselves previously said they held Clark "with compassion".
Clark had already admitted wilful fire-raising, with court previously told he carried out the act after being informed he would be made redundant after 16 years service at the Foundation.
A cleaner spotted the flames at about 2amon April 13 and 10 fire appliances tackled the blaze.
The court heard Clark flagged down a police vehicle to give himself up shortly after starting the blaze, after being unable to gain access to the Forres Police Station.