THREE young men from Pinner have been jailed for up to nine months, and a 17-year-old for eight months, after admitting to their part in a graffiti campaign targeting London Underground trains.The sentences were handed out amid emotional scenes at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (9) as the defendants' families looked on.
Richard Borgonon and Jack Browne, both 18, Elistar Filardi, 19, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named, were part of a network of graffiti artists who painted numerous trains between April 2008 and June 2009. The clean-up bill was an estimated £59,600.
The group used bolt cutters to trespass on railway property while spray cans, acid and paint were used to daub individual tags, the court heard. Videos and pictures of their work were uploaded to the internet.
Many scrawled the anti-capitalist acronym 'FTS', in what defence lawyers said was a response to the teenagers' feelings of disillusionment and boredom.
Handing out nine-month jail terms to Borgonon, Browne and Filardi, and an eight-month detention and training order to the 17-year-old, Judge John Price said: "This was very large-scale damage as part of a conspiracy, that some of you were committing for a matter of weeks, and some for a matter of months.
"It is an epidemic we see all over London, causing enormous costs. There has to be a deterrent sentence in the sense that, if everyone walked free from this court with all the damage that has been caused, it would be a laughing stock of the justice system."
Tim Harwood, 18, from Hampstead, also received a nine-month sentence while a sixth defendant, 17, from South Oxhey, was given a two-year supervision order.
Most of the group were arrested on July 8 last year after a long-running operation by the British Transport Police. Further evidence was gathered from the teenagers' computers before charges of conspiracy to commit criminal damage were brought.
In mitigation, defence lawyers asked Judge Price to show leniency as the crimes had been committed over a year ago and the teenagers had since moved away from vandalism.
Browne, of Somerfield Close, was described by his lawyer: "He is not taken to seeking solace in drinking or drugs. He has a positive future and has been fortunate to obtain employment. Incarceration should be a last resort."
The 18-year-old's mother was in tears as Judge Price declared: "You regarded it [graffiti] as art and took great satisfaction in it. You were doing it with enthusiasm and caused a great deal of damage."
Browne was responsible for seven incidents of vandalism, as part of the graffiti campaign on Metropolitan Line trains between Watford and Wembley, Watford and Harrow and overground trains between Amersham and Baker Street.
Borgonon, of Cannon Lane, admitted responsibility for 17 incidents. His lawyer said: "He knows the displeasure society views this kind of damage, which he committed through feelings of boredom, disillusion and lack of self-esteem."
Judge Price acknowledged that Borgonon had "changed" since the crimes were committed, but concluded: "I have to pass a sentence which will deter others."
Filardi, of Pinner Road, only took part in the graffiti campaign for one month and pleaded with Judge Price not to send him to jail. "It's not going to do me any good, I will be worse when I get out," he said.
The 19-year-old's defence lawyer earlier said Filardi was "petrified" of custody and was currently working hard on a course at Harrow College. But Judge Price again handed out a nine-month sentence.
The three Pinner men will serve at least four-and-a-half months in a young offenders' institution. All six defendants were also given a three-year Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) banning them from carrying graffiti-related items and from entering private railway property.
Each had previous convictions and the 17-year-old from Pinner was on bail for another graffiti offence at the time of his arrest.