AN ART student caught after he sprayed a "logo" onto a street electricity box was compared by his lawyer in court to graffiti artist Banksy.
Kevin Cooper (27) maintained he did not plan to paint the box but did it in a "moment of stupidity" as he passed in his van. His solicitor said Banksy had "started off doing this kind of stuff".
Judge Conal Gibbons said Cooper's story that he was "overcome with an urge" to paint the box was "ludicrous" and fined him €500.
The judge commended the garda for catching an "artistic phantom of the night".
Cooper pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to causing criminal damage at Shanrath Road, Santry on May 23 last.
Garda Philip Bartley said the ESB box was defaced at 11.40pm and Cooper was caught five minutes later in his Citroen Berlingo with a shopping bag full of spray cans.
Cooper, of Aughrim Street, Dublin 7, denied in court there was any "artistic merit" in it.
He only had the cans because he had come from a painting job, he said. He insisted he was not part of the graffiti "subculture." He had since personally cleaned the box.
Judge Gibbons said his story was hard to believe.
Defence solicitor John Feaheny said: "Art is in the eye of the beholder. There is a famous person, Banksy, who started off doing this kind of stuff, now he's selling stuff for half a million."