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Irish graphic designer told by judge to go 'back to college' after tagging Starbucks with graffiti on night out: 'It's not even artistic'

By Andrew Phelan

An Irish graphic designer caught spraying graffiti on a Starbucks shutter has been told by a judge he should “go back to college” because what he painted was not artistic.

Gareth Merrin (25) had drunk too much after an exhibition when he caused €150 worth of damage by “tagging” the premises on his way home.

Judge Anthony Halpin left him without a criminal record after he paid compensation.

Merrin, of Kimmage Road West pleaded guilty to criminal damage and possession of three spray paint cans at Lower Liffey Street on December 4, 2016.

Dublin District Court heard Merrin sprayed graffiti on the closed shutters of a Starbucks befor walking off. Gardai saw him and he had spray cans on him when he was stopped. It cost €150 to clean the property.

The accused had no previous convictions.

“What was the nature of the graffiti? It wasn’t a work of art was it?” Judge Halpin asked.

A garda sergeant said it was “tagging” and a photograph of the graffiti was handed up to the judge.

The judge remarked that it was “not even artistic.”

Merrin was a graphic designer by occupation, his lawyer said.

“He has to go back to college then because it’s not even artistic, it doesn’t even say anything of intellectual merit,” the judge said.

Merrin had been to an exhibition on the day and brought his equipment for spraying t-shirts, his lawyer said.

He had gone from the exhibition to a nightclub with friends and consumed “too much alcohol.”

Merrin was “absolutely mortified” by what he did and he had returned to Starbucks the following day to apologise and offer compensation. The gardai advised him not to speak to witnesses.

Merrin had his whole life before him and “very much regrets what happened.”

He had €150 compensation in court and his lawyer asked Judge Halpin to leave Merrin’s record “unblemished.”

He had lost his job as a result of the incident and had worked over Christmas in the Capuchin Centre.

Judge Halpin struck the charges out after the money was paid, adding: “I won’t graffitify his unblemished record.”

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