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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Railway 'graffiti bomber' jailed
Graffiti on a train
Dudley Halls caused thousands of pounds worth of damage
A man who caused thousands of pounds worth of damage by spray-painting trains has been jailed.

Dudley Halls, 29, an art supplies salesman from Manchester, was sentenced to two months at Perth Sheriff Court.

Halls was previously found guilty of spraying trains in Scotland in 2005, as part of an international crew of so-called "graffiti bombers".

He has also been ordered to pay compensation of more than 1,000 - the cost of cleaning the trains.

The self-styled graffiti artist and his gang of at least three "graffiti-bomber" friends brought chaos to the rail network in central Scotland.

I am satisfied, given the nature of the wilful damage you caused to railway carriages that the proper disposal is a period of imprisonment
Sheriff Robert McCreadie

The international crew co-ordinated the series of raids by communicating through graffiti art websites and mobile phone links.

They accessed stations and sidings, spray-painting Hall's trademark "Loch Ness Monster" on the side of train carriages.

They also sprayed the words "greed" and "slay" on several trains during a 48-hour period.

Trains in Motherwell, Airdrie, Yoker and Perth were "tagged," and rail chiefs were forced to cancel several services.

The gang were spotted in action by a pair of young girls as they walked home past the sidings at Perth railway station.

Halls - who was commissioned in the past to do murals for train companies - was found with a kit bag containing rubber gloves, masks, metal boots, spray-paint canisters and sketched designs.

Vandalism history

Halls, of Cotswald Avenue, Urmiston, Manchester, had earlier denied spray-painting graffiti on train carriages at Perth Railway Station on 12 June 2005.

He was ordered to pay 1,150 compensation to cover the clean-up cost of the train carriages he was directly responsible for vandalising.

Sheriff Robert McCreadie noted that Halls had a 13-year history of vandalism and had previously been jailed in England for similar offences.

He said: "I am satisfied, given the nature of the wilful damage you caused to railway carriages that the proper disposal is a period of imprisonment."

Graffiti on a train
The gang targeted several trains in a 48-hour period

The sheriff said his sentencing powers were limited and restricted the period in jail to two months as well as making Halls pay back the damage costs at 15 a week.

The sentence was welcomed by Insp Colin Munro from British Transport Police.

He told BBC Scotland: "I think we need to be quite clear that graffiti is a crime and graffiti on this scale is quite a serious crime.

"It costs millions of pounds every year to sort out these kinds of problems.

"This is not only financially very costly to the industry, but it's massively disruptive.

"On this occasion, the train was taken out of circulation and this led to huge delays for passengers and train operating companies."

Reports of graffiti on Scotland's railways leapt by almost 60% in the last year as overall crime on the train network fell.

'Danger element'

Graffiti artist Richie Cumming told BBC Scotland he knew a lot of people who painted trains.

He said: "They do it for the thrill of it and for the danger element of it, but also trains are pretty dull creatures that snake through our countryside and to make them a wee bit prettier makes the environment a bit more interesting, I think."

He added that he would like to see official projects for graffiti artists to decorate trains.

He said: "It would save a lot of money on cleaning them off, it would get people's art out there and it would give people a forum to express themselves.

"There could be projects developed to do this and it would make trains works of art that would travel up and down the country."




SEE ALSO
Figures reveal drop in rail crime
23 Aug 07 |  Scotland
Man guilty of 'graffiti-bombing'
04 Jul 07 |  South of Scotland

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