A station cleaner who admitted spiking her supervisor’s coffee with cleaning fluid has been jailed for 10 months.
Aurora Iacomi, 32, from the Redbridge area of east London, poured the liquid into Angelina Raychinova’s flask at Fenchurch Street railway station in April.
A court heard how Iacomi, a cleaner, tried to justify her actions as a “prank” intended to annoy her victim, who had left her feeling “humiliated” through a telling off.
But at a sentencing hearing at Inner London Crown Court, Judge Benedict Kelleher said she was motivated by “revenge” and had not taken care to know the level of risk her actions entailed.
He handed her a 10-month sentence for one count of administering a noxious substance with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy.
Iacomi, who has no previous convictions and was supported by her sister at court, had pleaded guilty to the charge at an earlier court hearing on May 22.
Prosecutor Philip Allman told the court that there had been a “history of work-related tension” between Iacomi and her colleague.
He explained that between 3.20pm and 4pm on the day of the incident, Ms Raychinova, who supervised Iacomi’s work at the station but worked for a different company, had left her flask in the cleaners’ compound within the station.
“When she returned, she took a sip from the coffee flask, immediately felt a burning sensation on her lips and spat out the contents,” Mr Allman said.
Ms Raychinova said she “smelt cleaning fluid” that was used to remove chewing gum from floors, the court heard.
Mr Allman also said Ms Raychinova had “previous issues with one colleague, this defendant”.
Police examined CCTV footage, searched lockers and examined the coffee flask and its contents.
Samples were also taken from a bottle of cleaning fluid, Mr Allman explained.
He said the CCTV showed “this defendant entering the cleaners’ compound during the time that the flask was left unattended”.
“On the CCTV, she could be seen holding a plastic bottle and moving it towards where the coffee flask was.”
Iacomi, originally from Romania, told police she was “having trouble” with Ms Raychinova and had been subject to an internal disciplinary hearing at her company.
“She explained that she was not very fond of Ms Raychinova,” Mr Allman said.
He told the court that Iacomi had initially admitted to police entering the compound that afternoon but denied putting anything in the coffee, despite later pleading guilty to the offence.
Mr Allman said the substance dropped into the drink was Graffi Green, which was “cleaning liquid to remove graffiti”.
He told the court that Iacomi had received training on hazardous substances and the “danger or hazard that attaches to them”.
Flavia Kenyon, mitigating, said Iacomi was from a “law-abiding, decent, hard-working family in Romania” and a university graduate.
“She found herself on that afternoon acting out of impulse,” Ms Kenyon said.
“This is not a premediated act, it’s not as if she put herself with that bottle at home to go to work with the intent to cause the victim harm.”
Ms Kenyon added: “It was a prank. Thoughtless? Yes. Reckless? Yes. Stupid? Yes, and she has paid a very heavy price for her stupidity.”
She explained Iacomi had lost her job, highlighting it would be difficult for her to find a new one in the current economic climate.
Ms Kenyon said Iacomi wanted to “apologise to the victim” and that she “did not intend to cause the victim any harm”.
She explained that during a work break, Ms Raychinova had approached her and “told her off in front of everybody else”, leaving Iacomi feeling “belittled and humiliated”.
Iacomi had placed a “tiny drop” of the liquid in Ms Raychinova’s flask “to spoil and to ruin her coffee break in order to annoy her”, Ms Kenyon said.
She emphasised that the cleaning fluid “isn’t toxic” and was “an alcohol-based substance, not acid” which is described as “a mild irritant”.
Sentencing, Judge Kelleher said it was “clear” from the case that Iacomi felt “unfairly treated” by her victim and “wanted revenge”.
He said Iacomi’s actions were “premeditated” and intended to cause “some harm” because of a “grudge” she held.
The judge highlighted that Iacomi “did not know the level of risk” she was exposing Ms Raychinova to.
The prosecution chose not to pursue a charge of administering poison or noxious substance so as to endanger life, to which Iacomi entered a not guilty plea.