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Last Updated: Monday, 29 October 2007, 20:54 GMT
Graffiti prison terms overturned
Thomas Dolan (Pic: MEN)
Thomas Dolan is planning a career in art and design
Two graffiti artists jailed for spray painting trains and railway bridges have had their sentences overturned.

Thomas Dolan, 20, and 18-year-old Thomas Whittaker, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, were sentenced to 15 and 12 months respectively.

The judges at the Court of Appeal decided each should receive a two-year conditional discharge. They have served two months of their original sentences.

Dolan, known as TJ, said: "We believe justice has been done."

Their prison sentences prompted protests by their parents and a petition on the social networking website Facebook.

Five-year Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) were also quashed by Mr Justice Grigson sitting with Lord Justice Latham and Mr Justice Aikens in London.

Thomas Whittaker (Pic: MEN)
The pair were traced when their work was tracked

They said the Asbos were "inappropriate" because the graffiti was not threatening or offensive.

The "positive features" in their cases should also have persuaded the original trial judge a community sentence was the appropriate punishment, said Mr Justice Grigson.

Dolan and Whittaker had admitted criminal damage at Manchester Crown Court in August.

The men were traced after British Transport Police (BTP) tracked website postings of their work.

Dolan used the graffiti name, or tag, of Krek and Whittaker went by the name of Mers.

Graffiti done by Thomas Whittaker (Pic: MEN)
The pair caused damage put at about 23,000

They were responsible for graffiti on trains, stations and railway property in Gatley, Bury, Buxton, Wigan, Macclesfield, Stockport and Longsight.

Dolan told the BBC: "At the end of the day, obviously something's gone wrong because they wouldn't have revoked the sentence if it was a fair sentence. I couldn't believe it though.

"We believe we have already addressed our offending behaviour - we were put on bail for 11 months. In that time we carried out considerable work in the community."

Dolan said he was continuing with plans for a career in art and design.

Lucie Russell, director of SmartJustice, which campaigns for alternatives to custodial sentences, said: "Sending these two young men to prison was far too harsh, very expensive and highly ineffective.

"Why weren't they given a punishment that involved paying back to the community by cleaning up graffiti or other useful work, instead of the time they spent sitting around in a prison cell doing nothing?"

Supt Peter Holden, of British Transport Police, said the sentences were "for the court and judge to decide".

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Graffiti artist TJ Dolan speaks about his release from jail



SEE ALSO
Protest over graffiti jail terms
14 Sep 07 |  Manchester

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