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Graffiti gang jailed for two-year campaign of railway vandalism

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Graffiti gang jailed for two-year campaign of railway vandalism

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Communities

Graffiti gang jailed for two-year campaign of railway vandalism Graffiti gang jailed for two-year campaign of railway vandalism

Four men were jailed today for their part in a long-running campaign to commit criminal damage on the railways across the south-east of England.

Tom Collister, Darren Austin (pictured), Joshua Piehl and William Setzdemspey, who belonged to the JKS (Just Kant Stop) and the FDC (Forever Doing Crime) crew, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to a total of six-and-a-quarter years for their part in a two-year vandalism campaign on the railway.

British Transport Police said the four were prolific vandals who caused delays and disruptions to train services after they defaced carriages during organised overnight tagging sessions – many committed while on bail.

The group was undone following a lengthy investigation by officers attached to the BTP London South Graffiti Unit.

Detective Sergeant Pete Thrush said the vandals were so intent on causing damage that not even the threat of death had deterred them.

"In 2004 Austin was arrested for trespassing on the railway in an incident where he received an electric shock from the 750 volt live rail.

"Yet he continued to trespass to spray graffiti on trains and sidings. In 2006 he handed an ASBO preventing him from carrying spray paint, but he was subsequently linked to a series of offences."

DS Thrush said the group were linked to crimes via photographs, paint cans and materials seized from their homes. Vehicles belonging to Collister and Setzdempsey containing spray cans, masks and other materials were also seized.

From 2005 to their arrest in Hertfordshire in April 2007, tags belonging to the group were linked back to offences at East Grinstead, Redhill, Woking, Tonbridge, Epsom, Bletchley, Horsham, Hastings, Tunbridge Wells and Ramsgate.

"Numerous bits of graffiti paraphernalia were seized during various house searches. Many had tags linking back to each of them on everything from railway timetables to shoe boxes, with even a pair of slippers being seized with their tags on it," he said.

Police also retrieved text messages showing planned activity between members of the group. One such message included: "Safe M8 U up 4 doin a live tube plot 2nite". While another stated: "I'm doin sum track sides by myself anyway I've got six cans of stella an paint."

DS Thrush said: "These people are persistent dedicated vandals. The court has recognised the seriousness of the offences, the risk these young men take with their lives and the cost to the train companies and public of south London. I would rather see people go to court than go to the morgue."

The court today sentenced the group for their part in the conspiracy to commit criminal damage. The four had pleaded guilty.

In sentencing Judge Stephen Robbins said graffiti and criminal damage was a serious offence and a custodial sentence would act as a deterrent to others from engaging in such behaviour.

"The fact is that this type of offending sickens members of the public who have their travelling lives blighted by this sort of criminal damage," he said.

Collister, a 22-year-old glazier, of Cherry Tree Way, West Wickham, was sentenced to 30 months jail for the conspiracy. He was linked to the tags SKEAMS, SKEAMZ, SKEAM and FDC.

Austin, a 21-year-old plumber of Mackenzie Rd, Beckenham, was sentenced to 18 months jail for the conspiracy. He was linked to the tag FDC

Piehl, a 19-year-old apprentice locksmith, from Speldhurst Rd, Tunbridge Wells, was sentenced to 12 months jail for the conspiracy. He was linked to the tags SKAM and JKS.

Setzdempsey, a 19-year-old and unemployed, of Hillmead, Uckfield, was sentenced to 15 months jail for the conspiracy. He was linked to the tags NOIS and JKS.

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