Taggers admit 241 offences

11 March 2010, 17:21 | Updated: 11 March 2010, 18:22

Two taggers pleaded guilty to 21 counts of graffiti-related criminal damage at Lewes Crown Court today (Thursday 11 March).

The two defendants admitted a total of 241 separate offences, committed between November 2005 and May 2009, which amounted to over £30,000 of damage.

Graffiti on a telephone box

Richard Markwick, aged 19, from Lancing and Matthew Fowler, aged 32, from Brighton, both prolific taggers in Brighton & Hove and Lancing, and on the railways and trains between Lancing and Worthing, had been remanded in HMP Lewes since September due to their persistant tagging whilst on police bail.

Markwick was sentenced to 15 months in a young offenders institution and Fowler was jailed for 18 months. Both men were also given three-year ASBOs

The ASBO forbids carrying the following articles in a public place throughout England & Wales, namely, any form of unset paint in any form of container, any form of permanent marker pen, any form of shoe dye or permanent ink in any form of container, and any form of grinding stone, glass cutting equipment, glass etching solution or paste (except if such items are required for the purpose of employment, education or training).

PC Rachel Piggott, Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: "This investigation was initiated following a joint operation between Sussex Police, Brighton & Hove City Council, and the British Transport Police. It has been an excellent example of partnership working, which has resulted in two prolific taggers being prosecuted through the courts. This should serve as a warning to other would-be offenders that this type of anti-social behaviour is not tolerated in Sussex."

Environment cabinet member Councillor Geoffrey Theobald added: “This is the latest in a string of successful prosecutions made possible through our working partnership with the police. We will continue to pursue the small minority who spoil our beautiful city for the rest of us; graffiti tags are not welcome in Brighton & Hove.”

PC Billy Burstow, British Transport Police, added: “The risks that Fowler and Markwick took were staggering and by writing graffiti lineside they placed themselves at serious risk. Their graffiti was discovered in places offering no refuge from approaching trains. They also accessed areas where there are trip hazards or where they risked getting their feet trapped in railway points. The railway is an extremely dangerous environment and the risks, even to trained staff, are always present and very real. Writing graffiti on the railway or elsewhere is not a harmless pastime. It is a criminal act and I hope that this case sends out a strong message that the police and the courts do not look kindly upon those who vandalise private property in this way."