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  • Courts too lenient on graffiti crimes: judge

    2018 - 07.03

    A districtCourt judge has reluctantly agreed to overturn criminal convictions for an Austinmer teen who helped his mates cause almost $30,000 worth of graffiti damage to two Illawarra trains last year.

    Declan Cameron, 19, was involved in late-night hits on trains at Otford and Austinmer stations on May 31 and June 14 respectively, in which the entire side of two carriages was spray-painted with graffiti gang tags.

    Mr Cameron played a lesser role in the Otford hit, driving his mates to the station then staying in the car park while they carried out the crime, however, he was an active participant in the incident at Austinmer, even wearing a Go Pro camera to film the group’s exploits.

    The camera, which was later confiscated, showed Mr Cameron and the other offenders spraying their group tag – SNM53G – on the 20-metre-long train carriage while it was stationary at the platform.

    At a Local Court sitting earlier this year he was convicted of two charges of intentionally damaging property and was sentenced to 18-month good behaviour bonds for each count.

    However, he appealed against the decision, seeking to have the convictions quashed.

    In Sutherland District Court on Wednesday, defence lawyer Melissa Humphries argued one of Mr Cameron’s co-accused had received a bond with no conviction for his role in both incidents, and in the interest of parity, Mr Cameron should be given the same.

    Presiding judge Paul Conlon reluctantly agreed to the request, but not before saying he believed the magistrate had been wrong in handing such a lenient sentence to the co-accused given the group’s wanton destruction of public property, which was estimated to have cost taxpayers $28,000.

    He said graffiti damage crimes were all too prevalent in the community, and the courts were too lenient on offenders.

    He also said suggestions by Mr Cameron’s psychologist that his actions stemmed from a sense of “camaraderie with his friends” and a desire for “creativity”, rather than any malicious intent, were “rubbish”.

    Mr Cameron will be required to be of good behaviour for the next two years or risk having the convictions reinstated.

    The court heard compensation of $4929 had already been paid to CityRail.

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