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Woman escapes jail for urinating on memorial

A woman branded "Britain's most disgusting person" by veterans after she was convicted of urinating on a war memorial was given a suspended sentence today.

Wendy Lewis, 32, was caught on CCTV relieving herself on the cenotaph in the town before performing a sex act on a man in public.

Lewis was sentenced at Blackpool Magistrates' Court today to 15 weeks in prison suspended for a year after fleeing an earlier hearing on Friday when she was met by a group of veterans, wearing berets and with campaign medals on their blazers, who lined the court steps to form a "guard of dishonour".

The veterans attended court again today to see the mother-of-two brought before justice.

Lewis, of Princess Street, Blackpool, faced further disgrace. The former heroin addict, who was found guilty of outraging public decency at an earlier hearing, also pleaded guilty to assaulting the female police officer who arrested her last night.

Lewis hurled abuse at Pc Emma Halliwell and kicked her twice, striking the officer's shin and her thigh.

District Judge Roger Lowe told her: "You are a young woman. You don't remember the First World War and the Second World War. There are people in this room who do.

"You have got the right to do whatever you want, think whatever you want and say whatever you want. Those rights were won by people who fought for us and died for us.

"The memorial in this town remembers the people who gave their lives for values which we hold so dear.

"When you urinated on the memorial you desecrated on their memory. You brought shame on yourself and you brought shame on the town."

Lewis, wearing a pink hooded top and white jacket, nodded as she was sentenced to 12 weeks for outraging public decency. A three-week sentence for the assault of Pc Halliwell was suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to complete a drug rehabilitation programme and pay £200 in costs and £50 in compensation to Pc Halliwell.

Lewis made no comment and covered her head with her jacket as she left court with a group of friends.

A male companion shouted obscenities at the small number of veterans gathered outside court.

Another man, who claimed to be her boyfriend, was later seen to give the "Hitler Salute" to photographers and shout "F*** the British Army".

The incident at the war memorial happened at around 5am on May 7. CCTV showed Lewis pull down her trousers and urinate.

Minutes later she joined an unknown man on a step and can be seen to kneel before him and perform oral sex.

The pair were spotted by CCTV operators who alerted police, Pam Smith, prosecuting, said.

Lewis denied urinating but failed to attend for trial and was convicted in absence on August 13.

She did attend court, briefly, for sentencing on Friday, telling war veterans to "F*** off" as she arrived and saw the "guard of dishonour" waiting for her.

Twenty minutes later she fled before her case was dealt with and magistrates issued the arrest warrant.

She was found at around 11pm yesterday in an alleyway close to Regent Street in Blackpool

When Pc Halliwell and a colleague tracked her down at a friend's home last night, she attacked the officer.

Ms Smith told the court: "The defendant was being aggressive and she kicked out, striking Pc Halliwell suddenly in the leg.

"She was calmed down for a period but later became abusive in custody, telling the officer she was an 'ugly cow' and a 'fat bitch'.

In mitigation, Allan Cobain, said Lewis will forever be known as "that woman from the Cenotaph".

He described the incident as "beyond the pale" but said it was the result of a "severe" drink and drug problem.

"Wendy Lewis could be viewed as a tragic figure who has to be pitied as much as pilloried," he said.

"With help, she may be able to get her life back on track."

Ian Coleman, president of Blackpool Royal British Legion, said foul behaviour around the memorial is an ongoing problem.

He said: "This place should be a sacred spot where people can come and pay their respects to the dead.

"On this memorial are the names of those from Blackpool who have died in conflicts from the First World War right the way through to the present day in Afghanistan.

"If you abuse this memorial you are abusing everyone who has been killed in the service of their country.

"And when they are in the service of this country they are in the service of each and every one of us."

Mr Coleman, 71, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, said there had been a spate of incidents of people urinating or conducting sex acts on the memorial and on poppy wreaths.

"It isn't just a Blackpool problem, I'm afraid it's a national problem.

"War memorials up and down the country are being desecrated.

"It seems the perpetrators just get a slap on the wrist and possibly stronger laws have to be implemented to have a deterrent to stop these people defiling this sacred ground."

Mr Coleman suggested those who disrespect war memorials should be made to clean them up.

He added: "I wouldn't want to see anybody put in prison.

"But that memorial is sacrosanct and we do need a deterrent."