Jail for man who urinated on war memorial
A MAN who urinated on a war memorial and scratched an obscenity into a nearby pavement has been jailed for 11 weeks.
John Rocky Ayres, 34, was charged with desecrating the First World War monument in Mangotsfield.
Unshaven Ayres, of no fixed abode, accepted he had scratched an obscene word on the pavement but denied urinating on the memorial. But North Avon magistrates found his offences to be "so serious" they decided only a custodial sentence was appropriate.
The magistrates jailed him and made an anti-social behaviour order against him for two years.
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The court heard that Ayres, who had been drinking heavily at the time and having problems with his family, was spotted by a passer- by who was outraged by what she saw.
Susan Hibbard said Ayres was standing over a plaque which is about knee height from the ground and contained details of the people who had paid for the granite cross.
The memorial, which is dedicated to the lives of 32 soldiers who died during the First World War, was just feet away from where he stood.
She told the court she was driving past the memorial at about 5.45pm on April 26 when she saw a "stream of urine" coming from Ayres in the direction of the plaque.
"I was going from my home to the park," she said.
"I noticed a man crouched down by the side of the plaque and I wondered what he was doing.
"I slowed right down and I stopped at the roundabout and turned around.
"That's when I saw him stood there, urinating on the plaque."
Ms Hibbard, who has lived in the village for seven years, said she was angered to the extent that she went back to the war memorial, having beeped at Ayres to show her disapproval.
"It's a very public place and it's full of history, the people who died, and I beeped my horn at him."
After briefly going home, she returned to the war memorial and saw Ayres talking to two men in white shirts and shouted at them about what she had seen.
The men were in fact police in plain clothes who were talking to Ayres about what he had written on the pavement.
They asked Ms Hibbard to pull over and she later provided police with a statement.
Giving his account to the court, Ayres, who cannot read, claimed Ms Hibbard had been mistaken and he "wholeheartedly" denied urinating on the war memorial.
He claimed he was merely trying to adjust the two pairs of trousers he was wearing at the time.
"I had a pair of jogging trousers on and the string was hanging out through the zip and as my trousers were falling down I pulled them up.
"I'm not calling her a liar – it may have seemed that way, but there were also lots of cars around."
Ayres, who is no longer drinking or on any drugs, added that the obscene word had nothing to do with the war memorial, but was "going out to someone else".
Asked to account for the fact that Ms Hibbard said she saw him urinating, he said: "I honestly, mate, do not have a clue. At the end of the day I know I did not do it."
Ayres originally pleaded not guilty to the charge of outraging public decency, but changed his plea, accepting he had scratched the word on the pavement.
But the magistrates wanted to hear further evidence about the incident, after which they said they found Ms Hibbard's evidence to be "entirely credible" and found Ayres guilty.
The court also heard that Ayres has 30 incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded against him.
Presiding magistrate Patricia Manning told him: "We are sending you to prison today for a total period of 11 weeks, having taken into account your late guilty plea.
"It would have been 12 weeks had you not changed your plea to guilty today. The offence is so serious only a custodial sentence is justified.
"You urinated on part of a war memorial and defaced the area with obscene words.
"You showed a complete disregard for the local residents and for what the war memorial stands for in the local community.
"Your record of committing acts of anti-social behaviour offences against property and your lack of remorse makes your offending particularly distasteful."
Mrs Manning added: "We find you acted in an anti-social manner and people need protecting from anti-social behaviour by you."
The Mangotsfield memorial was in the news in 2008 after the daughter of a Second World War pilot was taken to court for defending it in the face of yobs.
Julie Lake cuffed a 15-year-old youth around the ear when she discovered a gang vandalising the war memorial's garden.
But she was found guilty of assault, despite huge support from the British Legion and an army of war veterans – who branded her a "hero".