Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Jail threat for urinating student

A student who was pictured urinating over a war memorial has been warned that he could face jail after pleading guilty to outraging public decency.

Sheffield Hallam University student Philip Laing, 19, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, was photographed following a drinking session in Sheffield.

He was charged after the picture appeared on the Daily Mail website.

A judge, adjourning the case until 26 November, said his actions would have caused "distress, shock and sadness".

District Judge Anthony Browne told Laing, who appeared in court wearing a poppy on his dark suit, that all options were open, including custody.

He said: "The image of you urinating over the poppy wreath on the war memorial in this city will make most people turn away in disgust, shock and sadness.

"It has undoubtedly distressed and upset many. The war memorial is a sacred and special place."

It's difficult to articulate just how embarrassed and ashamed this young man is
Tim Hughes, mitigating

The court heard that Laing, a sports technology student, had drunk a bottle of whisky before attending an organised student drinking session.

District Judge Browne criticised Carnage UK, the private company that organised the event.

"Carnage is the name of the organisation who promote this type of activity and some might say that somebody should be standing alongside you this morning," he said.

The court heard Laing had no recollection of the events of the night of 11 October until he was contacted by the university press office and shown the photograph, which later appeared on the newspaper's website.

Ian Conway, prosecuting, said Laing had immediately admitted the offence when arrested and told police he was "very, very drunk, the drunkest I've ever been since I've been at university".

Mr Conway said: "The disgusting and reprehensible act the defendant carried out was in no way premeditated, targeted or politically motivated.

"His actions were sadly the result of having consumed large amounts of alcohol."

In mitigation, Tim Hughes said his client was "a young man caught up in a culture of drinking far too much and as a result of that this is what has occurred".

He added that Laing's grandparents had fought in the war and said the defendant had learned his lesson.

"It's difficult to articulate just how embarrassed and ashamed this young man is."

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports and Laing was released on bail.

In a statement following the hearing, Varsity Leisure Group (VLG) said: "VLG, owner of the Carnage UK brand, does not promote the commission of criminal offences.

"It is highly defamatory of if to suggest that it does."



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