Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
“Please vote Labour, Cruel Tories out”: polite and impermanent graffiti is still a criminal offence.

“Please vote Labour, Cruel Tories out”: polite and impermanent graffiti is still a criminal offence.

Fair cop: “Woman, 53” political graffiti verdict

In the early hours of the Wednesday before the general election, a woman of 53 walked around Hastings writing political messages across the town using a set of wipe-clean blackboard pens. Within a relatively short period of time she had ‘chalked up’ 50 messages, before a passer-by spotted her writing on the shiny tiled walls of the Jerwood Gallery and reported her to the police. She was arrested whilst she was contemplating writing on the pub blackboards outside the London Trader. HOT’s Erica Smith went to court to find out more.

It probably says a lot about me that I assumed I would know the offending artist. I texted my female friends of 53 to see whether they had had a moment of madness. As it goes in a small town, the artist turned out to be a friend of a friend, but not anyone I had ever met or even heard of before.

Katherine Douglas of Hastings is not unemployed, as early reports stated, but she is a carer for her husband who has MS. She is also an artist, and the mother of a 20 year-old student who was far from impressed by his mum’s nocturnal escapade.

Douglas was the first up in court this afternoon. The magistrate admitted that, like Katherine, he had not been aware that using a temporary medium like a chalk pen was a criminal offence. However, Douglas was also found in possession of half a joint of cannabis which made her offence more serious.

Douglas pleaded guilty, and since this was a first offence, and her situation as a carer for her husband had made her very anxious about new policies such as the dementia tax proposed in the Conservatives’ election campaign, the magistrate was lenient. She was given a 12-month conditional discharge and charged £200 in damages and £60 court costs.

Douglas said: “If the person I am now could go back to meet myself as I was about to walk out of the house that Wednesday morning, I would definitely say ‘NO – don’t do it!’”. Instead, she has vowed to join the Labour Party and will stick to campaigning by handing out leaflets in the future.

Katherine Douglas has said she would like to write up her story for Hastings Online Times. We will publish it in due course.

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Posted 18:04 Wednesday, Jun 21, 2017 In: Election 2017

Also in: Election 2017

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