A BENEFITS claimant who allegedly threatened to burn down a job centre told a court he would “kick off in there again” if released on bail.

James Plaster, 43, hurled obscenities at staff and demanded money after marching into the Job Centre in Clacton.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard Plaster visited the centre on June 20, launching into a tirade, “shouting and swearing in an aggressive manner”.

Prosecutor Jo Barham told the court: “he was saying ‘this isn’t a f****** joke, you c****, you took money off me, I ain’t going anywhere’.

“He was throwing his phone and banging his head against his hands.”

The court heard staff and members of the public were alarmed by Plaster’s behaviour, with a security guard even fearing he “might take a swing at him”.

Arson threat

Ms Barham added: “He made threats to burn the place down, saying ‘I’ll go and get lighter fluid, squirt it all over the building and torch the place’.”

The court heard Plaster, of Lilac Avenue, St Osyth, had to be restrained by the police and he continued to shout and swear.

During police interview, he said he was suffering with mental health issues and had drunk three beers before the incident.


Ms Barham said: “This may have been impulsive rather than planned, but it caused a degree of distress to the members of staff and public outside who witnessed this.”

Plaster, who was brought up to the dock from the cells flanked by two security guards, said “correct” when the prosecutor detailed his alleged threat.

But he refused to enter a plea to charges of making threats to cause criminal damage, common assault and resisting a police officer in the execution of their duty.

He also refused to decide whether to have his case heard before magistrates or by a crown court judge.

Ms Barham said as it was “an isolated” incident, Plaster could be granted unconditional bail.

'Scout's honour!'

But the defendant told magistrates: “All I’m getting is housing benefit, nothing else.

"Nothing for electricity, nothing for food, that’s why I kicked off in there – and I will kick off in there again, because I want my f****** money.”

Plaster backtracked after magistrates said his threat to return to the job centre would lead to a refusal of bail.

He said he was “joking”, adding: “I promise you sir, Scout’s honour”.

Unimpressed magistrates refused bail and remanded Plaster in custody until a plea and trial preparation hearing on July 19 at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Robert Caccavale, chair of the bench, said: “Mr Plaster, you have refused to enter a plea today and we’ve sent this matter to ultimately be dealt with by a judge at a crown court.

“We have to decide on your bail.

“Your behaviour in front of this court today leaves us to have substantial grounds to believe if we released you on bail, you would return to the job centre and reoffend.

“We are therefore refusing bail and you will be remanded in custody.”