Two years jail for teenager who daubed racist graffiti after pupil died

17/12/2014

A Merseyside teenager who daubed a school with racist graffiti just hours after one of its pupils was found dead has been jailed for two years.

James Coleman, 18, from Netherton, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court after pleading guilty to racially aggravated criminal damage at an earlier hearing. A 17-year-old boy from Bootle also pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to 10 months detention at South Sefton Youth Court  last week. He can't be named because of his age.

The two teenagers daubed racist graffiti at Maricourt Catholic High School in Maghull, the day after a black pupil from the school was found dead at his home. The 15-year-old's death is not being treated as suspicious.

Racist remarks were also discovered in Balls Wood Park which is near to the school. The graffiti was reported to the police. CCTV at the school revealed Coleman and the youth at the scene and they were also seen buying white paint and a paint brush at a local supermarket earlier. Police found several paint stained items of clothing at the 17-year-old's  home address.  He and Coleman were arrested shortly afterwards.

Victim Personal Statements from the father of the boy who died and the head teacher at the school were read out in court. The father of the boy said that he was a Christian and forgave the boys for what they had done and hoped they would go on to live better lives. He said their actions had happened when he was at his lowest ebb as he had just lost his son and they had "rubbed salt into our open wounds".

The head teacher described the graffiti as "desecration" and said his first priority when he saw it was to remove it so that his pupils wouldn't have to see it. He said the teenagers behaviour was "callous" and "hateful" and directed at someone they didn't even know.

The Judge, Recorder Stuart Driver QC, said to Coleman that there was "bigotry in every stroke of your brush" and that it was "racism writ large".

Chris Taylor, Crown Advocate with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: "These offences of racist criminal damage flowed from, and compounded the tragic loss of a young man. The two offenders daubed racist and Nazi symbols that reflect the very worst that humanity is capable of towards minority communities. The impact this must have had on the parents of the boy who died and his fellow pupils who were still in shock at his death is incalculable.

"Both of these teenagers have now lost their freedom and we can only hope that they use their time in custody to reflect on the pain they have caused."