Outcry over graffiti artists' jailing gathers pace online

Hundreds of people have joined an online campaign to protest against the lengthy sentences meted out to two graffiti artists.

Thomas "TJ" Dolan, 20, and Thomas Whittaker, 18, were sentenced for 15 months and 12 months respectively at Manchester Crown Court last month for vandalising railway property. Since then, more than 1,600 people have signed an online petition calling for the sentences to be reduced. An appeal has been lodged and the men are waiting to find out if it will be granted.

The pair spray painted murals on trains, stations and other railway property across Greater Manchester. Dolan used the tag, or name, Krek, illustrated by a cartoon cat called Kreky, while Whittaker used the tag Mers. Between them, the men, from Macclesfield in Cheshire, caused £13,000 worth of damage. They were caught when British Transport Police found images of their work on websites which they used to trace their email addresses.

Friends and supporters have rallied to condemn the length of the sentences, which they insist are unfair compared to lesser punishments handed out to sex offenders and dangerous drivers. More than 1,600 people have joined the Facebook group Free Krek and Mers, while many more have posted messages of support on MySpace.

On Saturday, about 200 people gathered in central Manchester for a skate and graffiti jam to raise awareness of the case. A music gig, at which Dolan's brother Danny and his band, The Virgin Marys, will play, is planned at some point over the next couple of weeks and T-shirts bearing the legend Free Krek and Mers have been selling quickly.

Danny Dolan said: "Every time we see him in prison we're shocked. The campaign... keeps everybody going. Fifteen months is a complete joke." Earlier this month, the Manchester Evening News reprinted a letter which Dolan sent to his family from Deerbolt Prison in County Durham, where the pair is being held. In the letter, he said he was "very worried" about Whittaker, adding "I am really concerned about how he will be coping as he won't tell anyone how he feels."

Philip Heathcote, who is leading the campaign, said: "I don't see how you can jail a graffiti artist before a rapist. TJ has held his hands up – they both have – and said they've done wrong. They've tried to put it right."

The judge who sentenced the pair admitted they were "decent" but insisted their behaviour should be punished as a deterrent. Judge Anthony Ensor said: "You are decent people who have a talent, but those who scar railways and other people's property have to be deterred. This kind of behaviour is carried out for self-indulgent gratification."

Dolan and Whittaker have applied to prison bosses to help run art workshops at the jail and teach reading and writing to fellow prisoners.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy