Judge fines jobless Extinction Rebellion activist £750 for spray-painting WWII memorial

‘Get a job!’ Judge tells unemployed Extinction Rebellion activist to find work as he fines him £750 for spray-painting WWII memorial honouring women 

  • Joseph O’Malley wrote ‘mother’ on monument to the women  of the war effort 
  • The tree planter, 33, was blasted for his ‘senseless’ act in court today 
  • Judge told him there was ‘no real reason’ that O’Malley couldn’t work 
  • O’Malley was found guilty of criminal damage and must pay £750  

O’Malley (pictured leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court today) vandalised the monument during last November’s protests

A jobless Extinction Rebellion protester who spray-painted a World War II memorial honouring women has been told to ‘find some work’ as a judge ordered him to pay £750 as punishment for ‘senseless vandalism’.

Volunteer tree-planter Joseph O’Malley wrote the word ‘mother’ on the 23ft tall bronze sculpture in Whitehall last November, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday.

The Monument to the Women of the Second World War, near Downing Street and the Cenotaph, commemorates the work done by millions of British women who signed up for the armed services and in factories to bolster the war effort.

Bearded O’Malley, wearing loose-fitting clothes, a wooden beaded necklace and ripped-open shoes, was found guilty of criminal damage to property under £5,000 in his absence earlier this year, the court heard.

District Judge Richard Blake told the 33-year-old: ‘It wasn’t protest, it was just vandalism. The manner in which you attacked this memorial was a senseless expression of the word “mother”.

‘For some reason, on this protest you involved yourself in hooliganism and vandalism. It was senseless.

‘I fail to see how defacing a significant monument which recognises the role of women in our society, for too many decades overlooked, in overcoming the tyranny of Nazism, how defacing this memorial can in any way further the cause of those who seek to bring to our attention concerns about climate change.’

Pictured: The vandalism inflicted on the monument during the protests by Extinction Rebellion's Joseph O'Malley

Pictured: The vandalism inflicted on the monument during the protests by Extinction Rebellion’s Joseph O’Malley

The monument (pictured) in Whitehall, central London, commemorates the efforts of women

The monument (pictured) in Whitehall, central London, commemorates the efforts of women 

The judge ordered O’Malley, of Ruislip, west London, to pay a £500 fine, a £50 victim surcharge, and £200 costs – a total of £750.

He said: ‘There’s no reason I’m told you could not get employment. You’re going to need to find some work to pay this off.’

The monument was unveiled by the Queen in 2005, 60 years on from the end of the conflict which scarred Europe.

Designed by John Mills, it depicts the hung-up uniforms and working clothes of female munitions workers and servicewomen.

Defending, Chantel Gaber said: ‘His intention wasn’t to damage that memorial. It wasn’t intended to cause offence.

‘It was impulsive during the march. There was no long-term damage. The damage was temporary and minimal.’

Ms Gaber said O’Malley was jobless and carried out volunteer work, including tree-planting for a group called Fellowship of the Trees.

It was not possible to get a precise figure for the cost of removing the spray paint from the memorial, which remained on the sculpture for around two months, the court heard.


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