Graffiti vandal locked up for summer after £34k damage spree

A graffiti vandal from Birmingham will be spending the summer behind bars after his unsightly scrawls cost the rail industry more than £34,000.

 Ashley Byrd was caught by officers on plain clothes patrols, after they had been alerted to a series of tags appearing on trains as they came into New Street in December 2016.

Byrd would access the line via a metal post and lie in wait in a tunnel for trains arriving into Birmingham from the east.

Ashley Byrd
Ashley Byrd

As trains were being held to come into the station, he would then spray paint the carriages, just below the window and out of sight of passengers.

The 24-year-old from Northfield was arrested on December 27 as part of an operation, launched after 18 trains were vandalised in a 12-day period.

A train driver coming into New Street at around 7pm had spotted Byrd on the tracks and officers found him hiding in the tunnel.

Byrd ran off but officers had already worked out his escape route and were waiting for him when he tried to exit the line.

As a result of him going on the tracks that evening, trains were delayed by 467 mins, costing Network Rail £30,556. The cost of cleaning the carriages came to more than £3,500.

Following his arrest, a search of Byrd’s house revealed sketch books containing drawings of the tags found on the trains.

His clothes were also sent off for specialist analysis and traces of paint found on them were discovered to be the same as that used on some of the trains and at Dudley Port railway station.

Examination of his phone records also linked him to times and dates of the offences, including further graffiti at Coseley and Tipton stations.

Byrd, of Inverness Road, Birmingham, was later charged with obstruction, trespass and criminal damage, which he admitted.

On Friday (16 June) he appeared before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court where he was jailed for eight weeks and ordered to pay train operators CrossCountry and London Midland compensation of £3,772 in total.

PC Dave Rich from BTP in Birmingham said: “These were not victimless crimes: Byrd’s actions delayed passengers and the cost to clean his graffiti will undoubtedly be passed onto the travelling public in some form.

“We are satisfied with the sentence handed to him and we hope it sends a clear message to other graffiti vandals that we will do everything in our power to put you before the courts, who take a dim view of such mindless acts.”