A man who defaced the NSW Police Wall of Remembrance suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was under a delusion he was being pursued by the government, a court has heard.
Hayden Jones, 30, has pleaded guilty to three charges of destroying and damaging police property – two charges relating to the memorial and one relating to a police van – in May last year.
The wall at The Domain displays the names of dozens of officers who have lost their lives while on the job.
It was marked with scratches and abusive messages. Police said they had to remove 28 panels from the memorial as part of the clean-up and the entire wall would have to be replaced.
In the Downing Centre District Court on Friday, Judge Robert Toner said it was “an exquisitely difficult sentencing matter”.
He said he had to weigh up the sensitive nature of the monument with Jones’ profound and chronic mental illness.
“There are few monuments in the community that properly are held in high esteem by the whole community and this is one of them,” Judge Toner said.
“To deface this wall was a dastardly crime.
“It is also irrefutably true is that Mr Jones’ commission of these crimes was largely driven, if not entirely driven, by the delusions he endures as a consequence of [paranoid schizophrenia].
“It’s patently obvious this was a crime generated by his disease.”
Jones, who was on a bond at the time of the offence but had a limited criminal history, has been in custody for 10 months. The court heard he is now on antipsychotic medication.
Judge Toner placed him on a two-year section 9 good behaviour bond under the condition he accepted supervision from community corrections, adhered to a regime of psychiatric treatment and had urine and blood testing. The judge told Jones any use of illicit drugs would have him returned to jail.
Judge Toner took into account a letter from Commissioner Andrew Scipione that said: “The Wall is akin to a sacred space and a place where those who have lost loved ones, and the broader police family, reflect, pay respects and mourns.
“The deliberate and wanton damage of the Wall in May of last year has undoubtedly added to to the deeply felt loss.”
A psychiatric report tendered by the defence said, at the time of the offence, Jones had a delirious belief that the government was after him and that he had been implanted with an electrode. To him, the wall represented a “manifestation of the government”.
The prosecution asked for a term of imprisonment.
But in releasing Jones on a bond, Judge Toner quoted from Winston Churchill’s famous speech about the mark of a “civilised society” being how it treated its weakest members.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.