A Fathers4Justice campaigner from Balby, Doncaster, appeared to scrawl the word “help” in large purple letters across a portrait of the Queen hanging in Westminster Abbey, a court has heard.
Tim Haries, 42, is alleged to have smuggled a can of purple spray paint into the abbey on June 13 before defacing the picture worth £160,000.
As he went on trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court, jurors heard that moments after committing the act, Haries told a steward at the abbey: “Sorry mate, I’ve got nothing against the Queen” before telling a police officer he was “guilty as charged”.
Opening the case, prosecutor Allister Walker said Haries shouted “fathers for justice” as he carried out the grafitti on the large oil painting.
He said that steward Peter Crook was guarding the portrait by artist Ralph Heimans, which was on display cordoned off by a rope in the abbey’s Chapter House as part of a wider exhibition.
“Suddenly, a man who turned out to the defendant jumped the rope and approached that painting with his arms raised,” Mr Walker said.
He said that Mr Crook quickly realised he was about to damage the painting and attempted to tackle the defendant to the ground.
“As he did so the defendant shouted ‘fathers for justice’ over and over and they both fell to the floor but unfortunately not before the painting had been defaced by the defendant.”
Haries, of Bellis Avenue, denies a charge of causing criminal damage of more than £5,000.
The trial continues