In another successful partnership between Gloucestershire police and English Heritage to combat heritage crime, a man has pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to Grade I listed Greyfriars Church in Gloucester. The surviving Tudor building forms part of the Greyfriars monastery complex which plays an integral part of Gloucestershire's history.
20 year old Lee Edwards from Matson, Gloucester was found guilty of spray-painting graffiti onto this fragile church. He was sentenced at Cheltenham Magistrates Court and given a conditional discharge for 12 months and was ordered to pay £285 compensation to English Heritage to cover the cost of specialist cleaners who have now successfully removed the offending paint from the soft porous limestone walls.
Hugh Beamish, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage in the South West said: "Greyfriars is a distinctive building in the core of the former medieval town that is well-known to both residents and visitors. It was originally established in the 13th century but largely demolished after the mid 16th century. We hope by highlighting the severity of this case that it will discourage others from carrying out the same mindless act. We have worked closely with Gloucestershire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service during the investigation of this case, and we are committed to working in partnership with the local neighbourhood policing team and the community to prevent this type of behaviour in the future."
Mark Harrison, Policing and Crime Advisor for English Heritage said: "This was a senseless act of vandalism which has damaged a very sensitive 800 year old property which English Heritage is looking after for the nation. We hope this case sends a clear message to other 'would-be' graffiti artists that their actions will not be tolerated in our communities. Heritage crime erases history, threatens the viability of churches, defiles the memory of our war heroes and melts away our great art and artefacts."
Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 it is a criminal offence to cause damage to a Scheduled Monument.
English Heritage takes heritage crime extremely seriously and forms part of the organisation's Heritage Protection Plan.