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Nelson statue vandal wanted to ‘start a debate’

PUBLISHED: 12:47 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:29 17 August 2020

Black graffiti has been sprayed onto the Nelson statue at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Black graffiti has been sprayed onto the Nelson statue at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Archant

A teenager who daubed graffiti on a statue of Admiral Lord Nelson “intended to start a debate”, their solicitor said.

The Nelson statue in The Close in Norwich Cathedral has been sprayed on with black graffiti. Picture: Ruth LawesThe Nelson statue in The Close in Norwich Cathedral has been sprayed on with black graffiti. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Jae Ikhera, 19, was given a conditional discharge after admitting two counts of criminal damage when appearing at Norwich Magistrates Court on Friday.

The statue of Norfolk’s most famous son, found in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, was first daubed with black spray paint on Saturday, July 4.

It was followed by a second graffiti attack on Tuesday, July 7.

More black spray paint was used, with Nelson’s name crossed out and the word ‘DOWN’ added to the plinth.

Fresh graffiti has been sprayed onto the Lord Nelson statue in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Daniel MoxonFresh graffiti has been sprayed onto the Lord Nelson statue in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Daniel Moxon

A number of statues across the country have been defaced in recent weeks as Black Lives Matter protesters call for memorials to historical figures with links to racism and slavery to be removed.

Ikhera, who received a 12 month conditional discharge was ordered to pay a £22 victim surcharge although there was no order for costs or compensation.

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The defendant was represented by Simon Nicholls, who said: “Jae has always accepted responsibility for these two actions. Jae intended to start a debate about Lord Nelson which Jae has been successful in doing.

“Even the cathedral said ‘although a national hero (Lord Nelson) was also like all of us, flawed in some ways’.”

While Nelson is regarded as a hero by many, he has become something of a controversial figure after it was suggested a letter read in parliament after his death revealed he was against a campaign to abolish slavery.

Last month a statement from the dean and chapter of Norwich Cathedral said it was “committed to reviewing the place of historical figures memorialised”.

The statement said: “The dean and chapter regret the damage done to the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson. The damage has been reported to the police and to Norwich City Council, which owns and maintains the statue.

“As previously stated, Admiral Lord Nelson, although a national hero, was also like all of us flawed in some ways.”


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