A YORK man has received a suspended prison sentence for covering large parts of Otley in graffiti.

Walls, electrical boxes, doorways, garages and more, particularly in the Westgate and Bradford Road areas, were defaced with 'tags' during the Christmas holidays.

Twenty nine year old Robert Emmet O'Brien, from York, appeared at Leeds Magistrates Court on Friday, February 8 to face several counts of causing criminal damage.

He was given an eight week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 120 hours of supervised, unpaid work within the next year.

O'Brien must also pay a £115 surcharge, to fund Victim Services, of £115 and pay costs of £85 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Inspector Andy Loftus, who heads neighbourhood policing for north-west Leeds, said: "O’Brien was responsible for graffiti tagging that caused a large amount of criminal damage across a significant area of Otley, with repair costs running to thousands of pounds.

"The damage appeared suddenly over a very short period of time and was immediately picked up on by locally-based neighbourhood officers who tracked him down, both off and on duty, and linked him to the offences.

"The court has rightly viewed these offences so seriously that he has been given a suspended prison sentence, a supervision order and a significant period of unpaid work.

"We hope the penalty he has received will act as a warning to others who think they can cause such wanton damage in our communities without having to face the consequences.

“Graffiti and tagging may seem like a low level crime to some but it creates a real eyesore in the community, costs money to put right and makes people think the area is suffering from high levels of crime, which isn’t the case.

“We will always take this type of mindless vandalism seriously and do everything we can to identify those responsible and bring them to justice, as we have in this case.

“We would ask anyone who witnesses people causing this type of damage or has any information on those involved to contact us so we can take appropriate action.”