Graffiti artists who caused €32,000 in damage ‘thought public would be interested’
TWO teenagers caused over €32,000 worth of damage to trams, train carriages and buses because they thought there would be public interest in their street art, a court has heard.
Charlie Magaharan (18) and Jamie Johnson (19) who called themselves Yogi and Robit, had intended to document their graffiti and compile a two hour DVD, which they hoped to sell later.
Gardaí secured search warrants for their home when they were captured on CCTV spraying in six foot tall letters “ROBIT BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME” on the perimeter wall of a garda station.
Their computers were confiscated and a number of photographs of graffiti on DART carriages, LUAS trams and Dublin Buses were discovered saved on the hard drives.
Both made full admissions after their arrest and Johnson said in interview that he thought he was a good enough street artist that the general public would be interested in seeing his work.
Magaharan of Monalea Park, Firhouse and Johnson of Priory Walk, Whitehall Road in Terenure, each pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges of criminal damage on dates between September 2011 and January 2012.
Neither have any previous convictions and they have not come to garda attention since.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded both men on continuing bail and adjourned sentencing to next July.
She ordered a Probation Service report for Johnson for that date and an updated report on Magaharan’s employment status.
Garda Niall Kennedy told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that although the pair were wearing scarves and hats when they sprayed the wall they were nominated as culprits following a garda tip off.
The gardaí later spoke to Dublin Bus, Iarnrod Eireann and Veolia Transport and discovered that buses, carriages and trams in Ringsend, Connolly Station and the Red Cow had all been spray painted with the words “Robit”, “evoke” and “Yogi”. The estimated total damage caused was €32,725.
Gda Kennedy agreed with Elva Duffy BL, defending Johnson, that he was “deeply shocked” when he realised the damage caused and offered his sincere apologies during interview.
He agreed with Anne-Marie Lawlor BL, defending Magaharan, that he was a “particularly immature 17-year-old” and believed the graffiti was “some form of artistic expression”.
Ms Duffy told Judge Ring that her client had a difficult childhood and has significant responsibilities within his family as he cares for both his grandfather and his mother who have health difficulties.
She said he is working for free on a photography placement and now understands that his behaviour was criminal. He had €300 in court as a token of his remorse.
Ms Lawlor told Judge Ring that Magaharan had written a letter of apology to Iarnrod Eireann and is willing to do work in the community.
She said he was accepted for a photography course and has competed at a national level in skateboarding competitions.
Ms Lawlor submitted that her client was “a decent young man” and his actions were out of character.
Magaharan had €1,000 in court which he had saved himself. Counsel said he has just started a plumbing apprenticeship.