An unemployed climate change protester was told to “find some work” as he received a £750 fine for spray-painting a memorial honouring women’s contribution to World War Two.
In an act of “senseless vandalism”, volunteer tree-planter Joseph O’Malley wrote the word “mother” on the seven metre tall bronze sculpture during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration through Whitehall last November.
The Monument to the Women of the Second World War, near Downing Street and the Cenotaph, commemorates the work done by millions of British women who signed up for the armed services and in factories to bolster the war effort.
The 33-year-old appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, wearing loose-fitting clothes, a wooden beaded necklace and ripped-open shoes, where District Judge Richard Blake said: “It wasn’t protest, it was just vandalism”.
The monument was unveiled by the Queen in 2005
The judge continued: “The manner in which you attacked this memorial was a senseless expression of the word ‘mother’.
“For some reason, on this protest you involved yourself in hooliganism and vandalism. It was senseless.”
He said he failed to see how defacing the monument recognising the role of women “for too many decades overlooked”, could help further O’Malley’s cause against climate change.
Defending, Chantel Gaber said: “His intention wasn't to damage that memorial. It wasn't intended to cause offence.
“It was impulsive during the march. There was no long-term damage. The damage was temporary and minimal.”
But Judge Blake ordered O'Malley, from Ruislip, to pay a £500 fine, a £50 victim surcharge, and £200 costs - a total of £750.
He said: “There's no reason I'm told you could not get employment. You're going to need to find some work to pay this off.”