By Laura May, Press Association
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
An Australian graffiti gang of “six talented artists” were jailed today for their part in a vandalism spree that caused more than £70,000-worth of damage.
The gang were known as the AMF and covered Tube and over-ground trains throughout London with their creations using tags like “quack”, “puse” and “kelts”. They signed their work so that other graffiti vandals could see it and admire their skills.
They also left the gang’s mark, the acronym AMF which seemed to stand for a variety of different phrases including “Australian Mother F*****s” and “Australian Misfits”.
The AMF launched graffiti attacks in the capital over a six month period between late summer and Boxing Day last year and all six men were involved to a greater or lesser extent, London’s Southwark Crown Court heard.
British Transport Police detectives also discovered evidence that the gang had left their mark in Australia and Japan, after discovering photographic evidence of their previous attacks.
The six men who were sentenced today were caught when they travelled to railway sidings in Ilford, East London after a Christmas meal together.
Two patrolling police officers heard the rattle of cans and smelt paint and called for backup.
S, 21, A, 22, L, 23, J, 24, A, 24 and M, 22, were all charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage.
M was sentenced to 16 months for his part in the string of attacks, Mreceived 14 months imprisonment, S and Hing were both sentenced to 12 months, Vreceived a 10 month sentence and A was jailed for eight months.
All of the men will serve half their sentence on licence.
Sentencing Judge Michael Gledhill said: “Each of you are intelligent well-educated young men hard working and capable of holding down jobs. Each of you are talented artists, in terms of graffiti artists, so to have to see the six of you sitting in the dock of this court about to be sentenced is quite appalling.”
The court heard that each of the men have an interest in graphic art – M, W, S, H and V have all either worked as graphic designers or hope to train to do so.
The extent of the damage caused by the AMF was discovered when police searches following their arrest on Boxing Day found photographs and videos of their other attacks.
Investigators were able to easily link the group to a series of other graffiti incidents using their personal tags and gang acronym which they used to mark their work.
The gang was involved in the vandalism of three Central Line Tube trains costing more than £10,000 to rectify, one Metropolitan Line Tube train, which caused £1,400-worth of damage and £15,000-worth of damage to two National Express trains.
The offence on Boxing Day caused £15,000-worth of damage.
All in all, investigators have estimated that the gang was responsible for at least £70,000-worth of damage, a figure which does not include the cost to the railways and passengers of removing the trains from service.
BTP chief superintendent Mark Newton said: “I hope that this case sends out a strong message that the British Transport Police and the courts do not look kindly upon those who enter this country to vandalise private property in this way.”
None of the men, who entered the country at different times from summer 2008 onwards, will be deported following their sentence, Judge Gledhill ruled.