Birmingham Cleaner Sprayed Workers Sandwiches

19 May 2015, 15:13 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

A ``spiteful'' cleaner from Birmingham secretly sprayed an office worker's sandwiches with air freshener after taking offence to him walking into the room, a court heard.

Sharon Edwards saw red over what her own barrister called ``a very trivial incident'' after a male customer services worker disturbed her as she was cleaning the canteen, resulting in a row between the pair.

The victim, Mohammed Omar Islam, had only gone to the canteen that morning to put his sandwiches in the fridge, but Edwards was later spotted spraying his lunch.

The 44-year-old office cleaner pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to administering a poison - a telephone cleaning spray and air freshener - with the intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy.

Edwards, described as a ``decent and hard-working woman'' by her lawyer, was given a 26-week suspended jail sentence.

Joanne Barker, prosecuting, said both Edwards and her victim were working at an office block in Hagley Road, Birmingham, on February 16 when the incident happened.

``Mr Islam entered the canteen to put his food in the fridge and the defendant was inside cleaning,'' she said.

``Ms Edwards was clearly unhappy with him entering the area as she tried to clean and, in fairness to her, had put a chair against the door (to stop anyone coming in).

``There was a verbal altercation - Mr Islam told the defendant she was rude, and put his food in the fridge and left.''

Ms Barker added: ``But as he left, the defendant muttered something along the lines of 'watch how you go'.

``Ms Edwards then opened the fridge door and opened the lunch-box with Mr Islam's food inside, and sprayed it several times.''

However, unknown to Edwards, of Fentham Road, Aston, her actions were all caught on the canteen's CCTV, aiding investigators in tracing her.

At lunchtime, an unsuspecting Mr Islam collected his food but noticed ``a strong chemical smell'' coming from his sandwiches, according to Ms Barker.

He passed the food around colleagues but took ``a small bite'', which he immediately spat out.

Judge Francis Laird QC was told a label on the back of the Selsafe telephone sanitiser spray's bottle read: ``Warning: Harmful. May cause lung damage, if swallowed.''

The victim later went to hospital after vomiting, but has suffered no long-term effects, the judge heard.

Suspicion fell on Edwards who was arrested and immediately confessed, telling officers she had not meant to hurt the victim but simply to spoil his lunch.

Her barrister Henry Spooner described the affair as ``an unfortunate and foolish'' incident.

``This incident occurred from what she perceived, at the time, as his arrogant and in-her-face behaviour - he accused her of being rude, and she, him,'' said Mr Spooner.

``Whatever the truth - and maybe they're both right - it didn't excuse her complete overreaction to that. She says she lost it.''

He added his client had been ``very angry'' and accepted she ``behaved in a way that was totally inappropriate for what was, when all is said and done, a very trivial incident indeed''.

Judge Laird, describing the case as ``unusual'', told Edwards she had gone too far, committing ``an act of spiteful revenge'' merely to teach her victim a lesson over a perceived slight.

He added: ``That spiteful moment and the potential consequences, had he consumed all the food, make this a serious offence which crosses the custody threshold.''

Edwards, whose sentenced was suspended for 12 months, was also ordered to undergo a 20-day rehabilitation activity.