War memorial offender spared prison
A student who pleaded guilty to outraging public decency after he was photographed urinating over a war memorial has avoided a jail sentence.
Philip Laing had been warned he could face a custodial sentence after the picture showed him soaking a poppy wreath following a drinking session in Sheffield city centre.
The 19-year-old, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, admitted the offence when he appeared earlier this month at Sheffield Magistrates' Court, and was ordered to do 250 hours community service.
But District Judge Anthony Browne told the court that "something does need to be done" about the drinking culture that led to his behaviour.
The District Judge said he had considered jailing Laing but he said he had never seen anyone before him who was more contrite.
Mr Browne referred to Laing's evening beginning with him sharing a bottle of whisky with a friend before consuming vast amounts of alcohol at an event organised by the Carnage organisation.
He said Laing had told probation officers all the drinks were £1 for the Carnage bar crawl. He said he understood Laing was so drunk he couldn't remember anything of the evening.
The District Judge said: "Now, let me make this perfectly clear. No-one forced you to take all this drink, or forced it down you, or persuaded you to commit a criminal offence. You did that all by yourself and you must take responsibility.
"But all this is set against a backdrop, as your solicitor has said, of a culture of drinking far too much. In my view something does need to be done to change this culture. What you have done has outraged and offended many and has saddened most."
Mr Browne said Laing had already been significantly punished and said Sheffield Hallam University was still to decide on his future.