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Banksy mural vandal pleads guilty

A US man pleaded guilty today to defacing two murals in Park City, Utah believed to have been done by the mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy.

If David William Noll, 36, pays 13,000 US dollars (£8,000) in restoration costs before a November sentencing hearing, prosecutors say they will not seek jail time as part of a plea deal.

Noll told a judge today he was suffering from a bout with bipolar disorder when he drove to Park City and damaged the works on New Year's Eve.

Banksy is a pseudonym for the graffiti artist known for silhouetted figures and spray-painted messages that show up in unexpected places.

His works have sold for as much as 1.1 million US dollars (£674,000) at auction.

The Park City murals appeared on the city's historic Main Street in 2010, around the time Banksy was in town for the Sundance Film Festival debut of his documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop.

One depicts a young boy with a pink halo and angel wings kneeling to pray behind a can of pink paint. It was found covered in brown spray paint after the protective glass was shattered. Also damaged was a bulletproof-glass cover over a mural of a cameraman shooting video footage of a flower. A spider-web crack on the glass obscured the image.

Citing YouTube videos police say Noll posted about the vandalism, Summit County attorney David Brickey said he appears to be a frustrated artist who did not understand the acclaim that surrounds the elusive Banksy.

"He said it was graffiti, and he was just marking it up again," said Mr Brickey, describing the videos.

At a hearing, Noll wore a tie decorated with a Norman Rockwell painting that shows the artist sitting at a canvas, looking in a mirror and painting himself. Noll told state court Judge Todd Shaughnessy that he has little memory of defacing the murals, but viewing the videos and talking to his family convinced him that he had damaged the works.

Noll has also served about five months in jail after pleading no contest to vandalising Banksy works in Los Angeles. He remains on probation in California.

His sentencing hearing was set for November 17.

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