A vandal who defaced a World War One memorial just yards away from a police station was brought to justice by an off-duty policeman.
Michal Qierepka, 29, originally from Poland, used a black crayon to scrawl the word ‘reDH’, which is linked to an internet graffiti craze.
In court Qierepka claimed he didn’t know about the word he wrote on the memorial in Wakefield.
Qierepka was spotted by Supt Tyron Joyce, 43, who was driving home when he pulled his car over to confront him.
The deputy divisional commander of Wakefield identified himself as a police officer and asked Qierepka “what the hell do you think you are doing?”.
The senior officer said: “I just thought ‘you are taking the mickey’. When you look, you are yards away from the main police headquarters.”
Qierepka started to walk away but Supt Joyce arrested him.
Supt Joyce initially had no idea what ‘reDH ‘ meant but has since learned. He said: “It’s some sort of world-wide fad where that word has been used on a number of public buildings.
“There is no suggestion that he is involved in some international crime. He was just reckless and thoughtless.”
Qierepka appeared before Wakefield Magistrates’ Court and admitted criminal damage. The court heard that reDH was part of an ongoing graffiti campaign which is well documented online.
Magistrate Sally Champ told Qierepka: ”This was a disgraceful act and your actions will have caused both offence and distress to so many people in Wakefield and beyond, because of course this monument is to remember those that have died.”
Probation officer Gill Redman said: “He cannot tell me why it’s happened.” The defendant also told her he hadn’t committed any graffiti offences back in his home country where he was a production worker. He moved to England three months ago. Qierepka was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid community work and must pay a £60 victim surcharge.