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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Jail for railway graffiti vandal
Graffiti on a train
Many of Robert Lee's crimes took place after dark
A graffiti vandal who left a 250,000 trail of damage on trains and bridges across south London has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Robert Lee, 23, of Kennington, south London, was intent on his tag "RIBS" reaching as wide an audience as possible, Middlesex Crown Court heard.

Police found two photograph albums documenting his crimes and a stash of marker pens and paint under his bed.

Lee admitted nine counts of criminal damage between 2001 and last year.

During a search of Lee's home, officers also found brake fluid which when mixed with paint or pen solvent can become indelible, the court heard.

Graffiti has a lasting impact and can increase the fear of using the railway system
Judge Mota Singh

Peter Zinner, prosecuting, said: "There's no doubt he's an expert graffiti artist who not only owned the necessary tools of the trade, but planned well in advance with great detail and dedication his trail of vandalism."

He added Lee, who has three previous convictions for graffiti damage, targeted Network Rail, South West Trains, South Eastern Trains and Southern Trains in his attacks, many of which took place at night.

'Reformed character'

Judge Mota Singh told him: "These offences are clearly so serious and persistent... that I'm sure you realise there is no realistic alternative to an immediate prison sentence.

"Graffiti has a lasting impact and can increase the fear of using the railway system."

Lee, who also asked for 51 similar offences to be taken into account, was given a five-year anti-social behaviour order to run following his three-and-a-half sentence.

Defending, Jacob Blatch said Lee had been obsessed with graffiti for 10 years but was now a reformed character who realised the social and economic impact of his behaviour.

Outside court, Det Con Peter Thrush of British Transport Police, said: "You can appreciate why the damages bill is so high when you consider it costs 1,000 a day to take a single carriage out of service and 30,000 to repaint it."

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