A Fathers4Justice campaigner from Doncaster who defaced a portrait of the Queen with paint in Westminster Abbey has lost a challenge against his six-month jail sentence.
Tim Haries, 42, of Bellis Avenue, who told jurors he vandalised the picture to highlight the “social justice issue of our time”, was present in court to hear the dismissal of his case by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other judges at the Court of Appeal in London.
Haries had denied a charge of causing criminal damage of more than £5,000, but was found guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January and sentenced last month.
The father-of-two smuggled a can of purple spray paint into the Abbey on June 13 last year before writing the word “help” on the painting.
The judges ruled that his sentence was “fully merited”
When Haries was sentenced on February 5, Recorder of Westminster Judge Alistair McCreath told him: “This was a deliberate and planned causing of damage to a valuable item of property on public display, carried out as a publicity exercise.”
The judge said the sentence must acknowledge Haries’ distress and unhappiness, but have regard to the case’s aggravating features, and to a degree deter others.
Haries decided to represent himself towards the end of his trial and directly addressed jurors, telling them he carried out the act as a protest against the “social catastrophe” of fathers not being allowed access to their children.
He said that, while he had nothing against the Queen personally, he targeted her portrait because of her symbolic role as head of the justice system.
The portrait by artist Ralph Heimans was cordoned off by a rope in the Abbey’s Chapter House as part of a wider exhibition to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The 11ft by 9ft painting was bought by Westminster Abbey for £160,000 after being on display in the artist’s native Australia.
The oil, on canvas, depicts the Queen in the sacrarium of Westminster Abbey, also known as the Coronation Theatre, standing at the centre circle of the Cosmati pavement, on the spot where she was crowned.
The Crown Court heard it cost £9,204 to repair, with insurers paying £4,000 and an excess of £5,000.
It was argued on behalf of Haries before the three judges that his sentence was “out of line” with other sentences for criminal damage.
But, giving the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Royce said there were a number of features which distinguished his case from others the court had been referred to.
Those features included the fact that it was a planned and not a spontaneous attack, it damaged a valuable work of art which took the artist eight months to complete, it was a stunt for maximum publicity, and for many members of the public the attack on a portrait of the Queen would be “particularly upsetting”.
Mr Justice Royce said it was a case which “justified” an immediate sentence of imprisonment and “one of this length”.
He added: “In consequence, we conclude that the sentence was fully merited and this application must be refused.”