A ‘disgraceful’ vandal who defaced Wakefield’s war memorial was brought to justice by an off-duty high-ranking police officer.
Michal Qierepka, 29, used a black crayon to scrawl a word linked to an internet graffiti craze on the cenotaph at Rishworth Street.
But he was seen by Supt Tyron Joyce, 43, who was driving home at 6pm on March 1.
Supt Joyce sprang into action and pulled his car over to confront brazen Qierepka, 29 who had written “reDH∆” above the brass plaque which commemorates the fallen of World War One .
The deputy divisional commander of Wakefield identified himself as a police officer and said “What the hell do you think you are doing” to Qierepka.
The senior officer told the Wakefield Express: “I just thought you are taking the mickey. When you look, you are yards away from the main police headquarters and yards away from Wood Street.”
Qierepka started to walk away but Supt Joyce arrested him and escorted him to the police station.
Supt Joyce initially had no idea what “reDH∆” meant but has since learned.
He said: “It’s some sort of world-wide fad where that word has been used on a number of public buildings. There is no suggestion that he is involved in some international crime. He was just reckless and thoughtless.”
Qierepka, of Denmark Street, Wakefield, appeared before city magistrates on Tuesday and admitted criminal damage. The court heard that reDH∆ was part of an ongoing graffiti campaign which is well documented on the internet.
But Qierepka claimed he didn’t know about the word he wrote.
Magistrate Sally Clamp told Qierepka: “This was a disgraceful act and your actions will have caused both offence and distress to so many people in Wakefield and beyond, because of course this monument is to remember those who have died.”
Probation officer Gill Redman, who interviewed Qierepka to assess him for a community-based penalty, said: “We have discussed the offence. He cannot tell me why it’s happened. He says he doesn’t know.”
The defendant also told her he hadn’t committed any graffiti offences back home in Poland where he was a production worker. He moved here three months ago and initially had a job.
But Mrs Redman added: “He is actively seeking work and isn’t claiming benefits His parents give him money.
“He says there are no issues with drugs or alcohol.”
Qierepka was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid community work and must also pay a £60 victim surcharge.