A BEACON of the community turned mindless vandal has damaged a £30,000 Bentley following an incident of residents’ rage.

The former head of Kelvedon Rotary Club, and now convicted criminal, John Saunders, 69, slashed the side of the classic car.

Saunders, from Berechurch Hall, off Berechurch Hall Road, was supposed to be helping run the apartments, as a director of management company Berechurch Hall Ltd.

Instead he walked up to his neighbour’s car and put a V shaped scratch on the side causing £2,000 damage.

What Saunders did not realise was owner Peter Stirling had installed a CCTV camera in the underground car park after a spate of previous damage.

Saunders was convicted of one incident of causing criminal damage, following a trial at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court.

The offence took place on June 7 and he was sentenced on Monday.

What caused the previous damage is unknown as is the precise reason why Saunders took against his neighbour’s car on this occasion.

Peter Stirling, who has lived at the apartments in Colchester for more than 30 years said he is glad he has got justice.

He said: “I pointed out to him on a couple of occasions I did not think one person should be chairman, secretary and looking after the finances.

“On the day in question he was milling around the pass door.

“It had been chained open.

“I am sensitive about the security because the car has been scratched previously.”

Mr Stirling closed the door and said he received a sarcastic “thank you” from Saunders.

Mr Stirling returned to his home.

He said: “I thought if it was going to be scratched in a fit of pique it would happen then.”

Mr Stirling returned to his car and saw the fresh scratch.

When he checked the CCTV footage he saw Saunders in the images.

Saunders claimed he had been by the car, in order to look at the interior, but was not responsible for the damage.

Mr Stirling said: “He was not aware of the camera. His face is clearly identified.

“He had no reason to be there.”

Mr Stirling spent about £20,000 on the car and has since had to to spend £9,000 on repairs, including the £2,000 for Saunders’ crime.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed the damage was to the passenger rear panel and Saunders was positively identified by the victim as a result of the CCTV images.

Saunders was sentenced to a £1,500 fine.

He was ordered to pay the insurance excess of £200, £650 court costs and a victim surcharge.

The car was first owned by airline entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker.