Man Who Vandalised George Michael Mural In Sydney Cops $14,000 Fine


george michael

The man who vandalised a Sydney mural of late singer George Michael has copped a $14,000 fine and 300 hours of community service.

Ben Gittany was found guilty of malicious damage in late July after covering the artwork with black paint after the marriage postal survey last year.

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One of the property’s owners – who was a friend of the singer commissioned Sydney street artist Scott Marsh to create the mural, which depicted Michael as a saint with a halo and holding a joint.

Gittany told the court in July he was Catholic and believed the work was “offensive to me because it was a mural of Jesus holding drugs in full view of everyone.”

On Tuesday morning, Magistrate Carolyn Huntsman said she had considered whether the 24-year-old should spend time in prison, but noted Gittany had acknowledged the grief he had caused one of the property’s residents, Buzzfeed News reported.

“But there is no expression in [the letter to the court] it was wrong and you harmed a community,” Huntsman said.

“You travelled to someone else’s community and imposed your views on them with an act that was criminal and harmful.

“What was left was a large area of black paint which arguably was a disturbing message of rejection to the community and arguably a contempt for other people.

“We are not a community where violence, criminal acts and property destruction are sanctioned because you have different beliefs to other people.”

A pre-sentence report on Gittany indicated the man now understood there were other ways to show his disapproval of the mural, like complaining to the council, Buzzfeed reported.

But Huntsman said the damage was extensive and had “distressed the owner and the community.”

She ordered Gittany carry out 300 hours of community service, which may include cleaning graffiti.

“Every time you have to spend hours washing damaged walls you can reflect on your own conduct,” she said.

Sydney street artist Scott Marsh was commissioned by the owners of the property to create the artwork two weeks after the singer, who the owners knew, died in December 2016.

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The mural was targeted several times with graffiti and eggs during the marriage law postal survey last year.

In response to Gittany’s vandalism, locals covered the coat of black paint with pro-equality messages such as “Too Late, Love Won” and “Love Conquers All”.