Saturday, August 28, 2010

Man sentenced to jail over graffiti spree

Damage to Preston Street hardly considered art, judge says

A 21 year-old man who sprayed graffiti along Preston Street in what was described as "an imbecilic game of tag" was sentenced to 30 days in jail Friday.
Kyle Kenneth McAndrew pleaded guilty to mischief for the spree of vandalism involving him and six other people that caused $20,000 worth of damage along the popular Little Italy strip during the early morning hours of June 15, 2009.
Assistant Crown attorney James Bocking told Ontario Court Justice Richard Lajoie that McAndrew and his friends were caught "black-handed" by police at around 4:45 a.m. after tagging nearly a dozen businesses or private residences as well as a mailbox, a concrete wall near the Transitway, the O-Train station, a billboard and other property. The vandalism occurred just days before Italian Week celebrations.
"This is not even an attempt at artwork, it is merely an imbecilic game of tag, where the goal is to put your personal signature on someone else's property," Preston Street BIA executive director Lori Mellor wrote in a victim impact statement. "These perpetrators are not doing anything to improve the neighbourhood, only tearing it down with their filth."
Mellor wrote that business owners are tired of their windows, delivery vehicles and other property being "savaged by paint." They have already struggled enough through slow sales from the global economic downtown, road and sewer work along Preston Street and last year's transit strike, she wrote.
"It feels like they are being kicked while they are down," she wrote. "It infuriates them that bored kids are allowed to run rampant with no responsibility for the damage they have wreaked."
McAndrew also pleaded guilty to twice violating release conditions by possessing spray paint cans. He has remained in jail since his arrest Aug. 18 near the VIA Rail tracks on Belfast Road, where police caught him with another man carrying two spray cans.
"The message needs to be sent that small businesses in this town aren't one's canvas," said Bocking.
McAndrew's lawyer, Gerry White, said his client's "dysfunction" extends beyond graffiti to alcoholism.
"These young people think it is art. You and I and the court and the public think it is a gross nuisance," said White.
Lajoie agreed, sentencing McAndrew to 30 days on top of time already served and 20 hours of community service.
"You can argue you are expressing artistic talents but the majority of the population doesn't see it that way," said Lajoie, who also sentenced McAndrew to two years probation, including conditions not to possess any graffiti-making items such as paint cans and to stay 50 metres away from Preston Street unless in transit or for work.


Taken from: Ottawa Citizen

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