Seven months in jail for woman who urinated on war memorial – twice
A drunken woman who twice urinated on a public war memorial in front of horrified onlookers has been jailed for seven months in the UK.
Kelly Martin, 42, outraged public decency when she desecrated the monument in broad daylight in Grays, Essex, first in April when there were still Remembrance poppy wreaths on it.
She did so a second time while on bail in June, the day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1 1916 and cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
Martin, who wore a blue vest top and had her hair in an off-centre pony tail, swore and shouted as she was led down to the cells at Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday.
Judge John Lodge, sentencing, said: "Each of these offences is so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.
"The two cases of outraging public decency involve urinating on a war memorial.
"Inevitably war memorials were constructed at the centre of towns and villages so on a daily basis people could be reminded of the sacrifices made by people who died.
"People use them as a place around which they congregate and that's not wrong, but when people take that step further and abuse them by urinating on them that's a matter the court needs to take very seriously indeed."
Addressing Martin, he said: "What makes your case particularly bad is having been caught doing it one time, when the nation was commemorating the worst battle of the First World War you were caught doing it again in the middle of the day."
Mother-of-five Martin, of no fixed abode, was arrested on July 2 and convicted at Basildon Magistrates' Court in August of two charges of outraging public decency and one of common assault and using abusive language against a paramedic the same day.
Martin had thrown a bottle at the paramedic, the court heard.
She was sentenced to one month in prison for the first count of outraging public decency, three months for the second to run consecutively and three months for both the assault and the abusive language, to run concurrently.
Mothers with young children were among the mortified members of the public who had witnessed Martin's unsavoury act on June 30, pictures of which surfaced online on July 1, as the nation came together to remember the fallen.
The case had been sent to Basildon Crown Court for sentencing, as district judge John Woollard told an earlier hearing at Basildon Magistrates' Court that he did not feel it was "within my sentencing powers" to deal with the case, given a slew of aggravating features - including that Martin was drunk and appeared remorseless.
In mitigation, the court heard that Martin had spent seven weeks in prison on remand and was now "clean".
Page 2: 13:38
Ken Campbell, who served nine years with the Royal Engineers and runs the Veterans Radio Net internet radio station, was in court to hear Martin's sentencing.
"I'm very disappointed with the sentence but understand that this is such an unusual case and the judge had no guidelines," he said. "There are no sentencing guidelines for the desecration of war memorials.
"This is something that the veterans community needs to look at petitioning the powers-that-be on to make this a crime in itself."
He added that in a more lawless country Martin may have faced capital punishment.
"We stand up and say, 'no, that's not right', and we defend the country," he said. "That recognition has got to be honoured within the law."
He said a starting point of six months in prison with be appropriate for an early guilty plea, rising to a scale of 18 months to two years after trial.