A mindless vandal spray-painted a horse in the face when he left a trail of graffiti damage across a community sparking a furious social media backlash.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Monday, December 12, how Ricky Lee Tomlinson, 27, of Cauldon Drive, Holme Hall, Chesterfield, was found guilty of nine graffiti offences of criminal damage - including his reddy-pink tag “Blade” - as appalled residents and businesses and a school complained to police.
Tomlinson used a reddy-pink spray to leave a trail of graffiti on numerous signs and walls across Unstone and Dronfield and most disturbingly across the face of a horse and on the blanket of another horse at a paddock near Callywhite Lane.
Prosecuting solicitor Bill Taylor revealed how the owners of the horses, Joy Spurr and Caroline Moroz and her 15-year-old daughter Lily, had been horrified to discover their animals had been targeted as word spread across the area about numerous graffiti attacks.
Mr Taylor said: “Joy Spurr said she went to the paddock and Lily Moroz’s horse Nero had a pink stripe down his nose and she first thought he must have been injured and had needed an antiseptic spray.
“She added that Lily came down and when Lily didn’t realise what she was talking about they both became shocked to realise that someone could do this. Ms Spurr said Nero had been lucky he had not been sprayed in the eyes.”
Mr Taylor added that Caroline and Lily Moroz were very upset because they feared the attack might have affected Nero’s skin and left him traumatised.
Pc Sally Horner said: “There was a lot of publicity on Facebook and social media about the horse and that sparked all the other people ringing in.”
Ms Spurr also found paint sprayed on the blanket on her horse at the paddock.
Other targets during Tomlinson’s reign of vandalism included a chevron sign and a grit bin belonging to Derbyshire County Council, a sign at Unstone Plant Centre, a wall at Unstone Junior School, two doors at Unstone Service Station, three walls at DP Kelly Holdings Ltd, a sign and wheelie bin at Dronfield’s Royal Mail Delivery Office and a wall at Staves Estate Agent’s in Dronfield.
The court heard how police searched Tomlinson’s former flat at Hassop Close, Dronfield, and found a sketch pad, sketches and painted canvases as well as his graffiti tag “Blade” written on the inside of his door.
The tag “Blade” featured a distinctive letter “a” written with a circle around it as in the symbol for anarchy and with a curly letter “e” which was evident among the vandalism.
Mr Taylor said: “These nine charges were all done in a close geographical area on the same occasion and we have seen an image of the word ‘Blade’ at Mr Tomlinson’s address and ‘Blade’ has been referred to as his tag.”
Tomlinson’s second-cousin Hailey Yates revealed she had been drinking with Tomlinson during the day of the offences and they had finished up at the Horse and Jockey, at Unstone, and she said Tomlinson wrote the tag “Blade” on a wall.
The following day she added that she saw Facebook comments about graffiti across Unstone and she later told police she thought Tomlinson had been responsible.
The owner of Fat Sam’s takeaway, at Dronfield, Mehmet Dari, said he had seen Tomlinson at his takeaway on Sheffield Road, Dronfield, during the evening the offences had been committed and Tomlinson was identified on the takeaway’s CCTV by Mr Dari and police.
A witness also said that she had met a young man at Fat Sam’s who she had seen spray-painting a wall at Staves Estate Agent’s.
Tomlinson pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of criminal damage during a one-day trial, three of which were dismissed, but he was found guilty on nine counts from October 24, 2015, by a bench of magistrates relating to hundreds of pounds of damage.
The court heard how Tomlinson’s friend Ashley Ryan Cook, 22, of Derby Road, Chesterfield, had previously been dealt with by the court after he pleaded guilty to three counts of causing damage at a waste pipe, on playground equipment and on garage walls with graffiti at Unstone during a similar period.
Tomlinson had been accused of taking part in these attacks after this graffiti had included his tag ‘Blade’ but he was cleared of these three charges after Pc Sally Horner told the court she could not be sure of the exact date of these offences. Defence solicitor Kevin Tomlinson also argued the police could not be absolutely sure Tomlinson had been involved in these three offences.
Magistrates adjourned the case to consider a probation report before sentencing Tomlinson on Monday, December 19.