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Graffiti artist's `great promise' was a fake.

Forged reference puts man in prison

CHEEKY graffiti artist Craig Longworth must have thought he was home free when he was spared jail by a judge who read a reference he had forged.

But the scam came back to haunt the 22-year-old yesterday when he was locked-up for perverting the course of justice.

And the Almondbury man who helped him by forging the letter was also convicted yesterday.

Longworth, of Godley Road, Halifax, was found guilty of criminal damage at a trial back in January after he had spray painted a train parked at Ilkley station causing pounds 8,000 worth of damage.

After the trial he was told by Recorder Bernard Gateshill that he was thinking of jailing him for nine months but after reading the "reference", supposedly from his employers at the Halifax Bank, he added that he could just hold back from sending him to custody.

However, after seeing a report of the case in a local paper, other employees of the bank brought the matter to light and Longworth was again arrested.

Gavin Howie, prosecuting, told Bradford Crown Court that Longworth had got his friend and fellow employee at the Halifax, Andrew Wade, to write him a glowing reference claiming to be Longworth's assistant manager.

Mr Howie said that the phoney document, which said that Longworth was "a young man of great promise", had swayed the judge.

For his part Wade, 22, of Templar Drive, Almondbury, who pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, was ordered to serve a 120-hour community punishment order (CPO) and pay pounds 120 costs by Judge Roger Scott.

Judge Scott also revoked the original CPO imposed on Longworth back in January and jailed him for nine months for the criminal damage and six months to run consecutively for perverting the course of justice.

The judge read from a pre-sentence report which said that Longworth was a continuing danger to all trains in the UK who took delight in seeing the shocked expression of passengers when they saw his graffiti.

He told Longworth: "You were desperate because the recorder had told you he was thinking of custody. This type of offence goes to the heart of the criminal justice sentencing system.

"Those who are minded to create false references which in this day and age is extremely easy to do should bear in mind that if they do it and if they are caught they will go to prison."

Stephen Wood, mitigating, told the court that Longworth was a highly intelligent young man who had been commissioned by the local authority to carry-out his "art" in the past.

"He's young enough to address his problems and he's young enough to change," added Mr Wood. "His undoubted talents can be put to lawful use in the community."
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2005
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