A Barossa Valley winemaker, who was racked by deep feelings of "treachery and betrayal" when he drained 27,000 litres of shiraz and chardonnay from tanks at a rival company, has been given a suspended jail sentence.
In February 2015, Trevor David Jones went to Kellermeister Wines at Lyndoch and opened valves to drain wine worth almost $300,000 from four of the company's tanks.
After celebrity chef Maggie Beer appeared as a character witness and offered her ongoing support, District Court Judge Jane Schammer jailed Jones for three years and seven months on Thursday, with a non-parole period of 18 months.
But she suspended both terms, placing the man who Ms Beer said had a "generosity of spirit" and who had never let her down, on a two-year good behaviour bond.
Judge Schammer said Jones was clearly a highly talented and well-regarded winemaker who had found himself in "personal despair".
However, she said his offending was serious and the full cost of his actions were hard to determine, with Kellermeister claiming to have lost about $600,000 a year in reduced income.
"The offending was deliberate and was targeted against what was effectively a commercial rival," the judge said.
The 60-year-old's actions were sparked by a breakdown in the relationship with his father, who had previously owned the winery as a family business.
When he found out that his father had sold up, his pre-existing mental health issues escalated, the judge said.
Jones went to Kellermeister in the early hours of the morning on February 22, 2015 and opened the valves, draining 13,580 litres of shiraz and almost 14,000 litres of chardonnay.
He denied any involvement for some time before pleading guilty to two counts of property damage just before the start of a trial.
In previous sentencing submissions, defence counsel Mark Griffin said his client's offending was "foolish retribution".
"It had its origins in deep feelings of betrayal and treachery and the belief, rightly or wrongly, that he had become a worthless individual," Mr Griffin said.
Commenting outside the court last month, Ms Beer said her friend's actions were "absolutely out of character".
"Who knows what goes on in a person's head when they're struggling," she said.
"As a friend, I never see Trevor without giving him a big hug."
But in his victim impact statement the current owner of Kellermeister Wines, Mark Pearce, told the court that what Jones did was an act of "sabotage" that had caused both direct and reputational damage.
"The crimes of Trevor Jones were calculated to cause damage and they did just that," Mr Pearce said.
AAP Tim Dornin