A man who left Merseyrail with a cleanup bill of almost £5k after a five month graffiti spree has been given a suspended sentence following a British Transport Police investigation.
Thomas Ireland, aged 31, of Ormskirk, had pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal damage, five counts of trespass and one count of possession of a controlled drug at an earlier hearing, and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months on Thursday, December 16 at Sefton Magistrates’ Court. He was also handed a 12-week curfew which will be monitored by an electronic tag.
The court heard how on Monday, March 30 last year, a Merseyrail train was spray-painted with a graffiti tag at Kirkdale depot.
On March 5 this year, a second train unit was graffitied at Ormskirk station with the same tag.
Ten days later at Rock Ferry station on March 15, Ireland was disturbed in the early hours by security officers whilst spraying a train with the same graffiti tag.
On May 26 another Merseyrail train unit was subject to a graffiti attack at Ormskirk station.
Ireland later returned to the scene of the crime to continue his earlier graffiti.
A third attempt on the same day at the same station was witnessed by the driver of the service.
Ireland was detained and searched by British Transport Police, where he was found to be carrying a bag of amphetamines.
A subsequent search of his address revealed a stash of spray paint, sketches of Ireland’s tag and photographic evidence.
In a police interview, Ireland immediately admitted the offences.
Investigating officer PC Craig Harris said, “Ireland ultimately slipped up and was a victim of his own arrogance by returning to the scene of his crime three times on the same day.
“The cost of repairing graffiti is enormous – money which could otherwise be invested back into the network. In addition it also causes disruption to services and inconvenience to passengers as trains are taken out of service to be cleaned.
“Graffiti on the railway is also incredibly dangerous. It often involves trespassing onto the railway lines, which can be charged with electricity, or have trains constantly passing though.
“We invest significant resources and time to ensure anyone committing criminal damage on the railway is brought before the courts.
“If you notice anyone acting suspiciously or vandalising the railway, you can easily report it to us by discreetly texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40.”