A 22-year-old man was high on drugs when he sprayed two taxi drivers with a fire extinguisher he had just stolen from an ambulance station, a court has heard.
Connor Gardner, of High Street, Woodville, embarked on a drug-fuelled rampage launching a "nasty attack" on the two drivers after he had broken into Swadlincote Ambulance Station, in Alexandra Road, in the town. He also used the fire extinguisher to damage taxis parked outside.
Now East Midlands Ambulance Service bosses have slammed his actions saying the cost of replacing the fire extinguisher could have been used to treat its patients instead.
Gardner appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court where he denied some of the charges against him, but he was convicted of all offences.
The court heard that in the early hours of March 30, last year, Gardner was high on drugs and had been drinking when he broke into East Midlands Ambulance Service's station in Swadlincote where he stole a fire extinguisher. He then used the item to damage two taxis parked outside.
Gardner's vandalism prompted two taxi drivers to confront him but he sprayed them with the liquid from the fire extinguisher, the court was told.
He also launched into a tirade of racial abuse before police were called. Officers were forced to chase him on foot for a short distance before he was finally arrested.
At his trial Gardner was found guilty of assaulting the two men. He was also found convicted of damaging a vehicle belonging to the one of the victims.
The defendant was also found guilty of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, and the offence was racially aggravated.
At a previous hearing before this trial Gardner had admitted damaging the rear window of a car belonging to the second victim.
He also admitted stealing the fire extinguisher, and failing to attend court on November 23.
Mark Ward, assistant local security management team at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said after the court hearing: "We take all thefts very seriously and although a fire extinguisher costs £21.38, every penny spent on replacing stolen items could have been spent on our patients instead.
"We investigate all cases and where offenders can be identified, we work in partnership with Police to take the strongest action possible."
Gardner avoided an immediate jail sentence when he was made the subject of a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, with magistrates saying they felt it was a particularly "nasty attack using a weapon on public servants while 'in drink' and high on drugs".
He must also complete a drug rehabilitation requirement and complete 100 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation, a £200 fine, £620 court costs and a £115 victim surcharge.