THREE Spanish friends have been spared jail for an €18,000 graffiti attack on Dart carriages at a Dublin train depot.
uis Garcia Diaz (30), Francisco Espinosa (27) and Jonay Gallo (25), described as “talented” artists, caused “massive inconvenience and expense” to Irish Rail when they defaced the two trains with spray paint, a court heard.
Suspending sentences, Judge Pauline Codd said it was not acceptable to use trains as a “canvas” for some “misguided artistic endeavor.”
The three pleaded guilty at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage charges.
Diaz, a Madrid factory worker of no fixed address and Espinosa, a construction worker from Seville with an address at Susan Terrace, Dublin 8 were each given two-year suspended sentences.
Gallo, a waiter from Burgos living at Mount Shannon Road, Dublin, was given a longer two-and-a-half year suspended sentence because he had also recorded the graffiti on his phone.
Garda Richard Ledwidge said four carriages on two separate side-by-side trains were sprayed with tags at Fairview Dart Depot on October 10 last year.
The cost of the damage was €12,193, with a loss of revenue of €6,554 as the carriages could not be used for two days – the total was €18,747.
The court heard a security guard saw “four guys” spray painting the carriages while monitoring CCTV at 2.59pm.
He went onto the tracks and saw one of the men recording the others. When told the gardai would be called, they kept spraying. He followed them as they crossed the tracks and dumped their bags in a ditch.
Gardai arrived and the four split up and fled down the road in East Wall. Gallo and Diaz ran down a dead end and sat down when they were told to get on the ground.
Espinosa kept running and was chased before being caught and brought to the ground.
The fourth man was not apprehended.
Video and photos of the spray painting were found on Gallo’s phone. Only Diaz said anything of evidential value in the interview, telling gardai: “I didn’t come especially for painting trains… I did not come intentionally to cause trouble.”
He took responsibility for a “Skab” tag on one train.
None of the accused had any prior convictions and all had apologized.
Gallo has a degree in graphic design and had worked in the field in Madrid before coming to Ireland to learn English, his barrister Oisin Clarke said. He was a “talented individual” with an interest in street art but had used his talent on the day to do something that was “inappropriate” and a criminal offense in a “very foolish endeavor.”
He had lost his job here as a content moderator for Facebook as a result of publicity from the case.
Judge Codd asked if the video he took was to be posted on the internet “for a lark.”
Mr Clarke said there was “no real, good explanation” and it was “one afternoon of madness.”
This kind of offense was a much more minor offense in Spain, he said.
Judge Codd said it seemed to be “some kind of misguided and misplaced artistic endeavour” using Irish Rail’s trains as “a canvas”.
Luigi Rea, for Diaz, said there had been artistic content that some might regard as graffiti while others would regard it as art.
“If the word “Banksy” had been on the carriage it would be worth millions at this stage,” he remarked.
He said the activity was more commonly engaged in on the continent and in a sunny climate there might be a “more attractive” aspect to it than in a “wet dreary Irish winter.”
The offense was a “misdirected application of (Diaz’s) passion for art onto the carriages of Irish Rail.”
Diaz had come “late to the party”, arriving in Ireland for the weekend at the time.
Espinosa had worked as a lifeguard and was in Ireland to learn English, his barrister Tom Horan said. He had a passion for art and had been paid to paint the sides of buildings in Spain. He accepted what he did on this occasion was “absolutely inappropriate”.
It was all very well for people to have artistic temperaments, but it was not acceptable to use the property of others as a canvas, Judge Codd said.
“There has to be a disincentive to people carrying out this kind of handiwork, however talented they are,” the judge said.
Each of the accused had considerable artistic talent, but there had to be a deterrent to express it in this way, she said.
Partial compensation was paid by each accused and Judge Codd gave them a year to pay the balance, totaling €12,000. She said she was not requiring them to pay the full amount because of their limited means.
The judge took into consideration charges of trespassing on a railway and possession of items with intent to cause criminal damage.