A woman who poured human faeces over a memorial for Captain Sir Tom Moore has been spared jail as she apologised for any offence caused to his family.
Madeleine Budd, 21, targeted the life-sized statue of the World War Two veteran in Thistley Meadow, Hatton, south Derbyshire, in an environmental protest on September 30.
The stunt caused “outrage amongst society” after it was filmed and shared on social media, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday.
“She has expressed she will not undertake actions such as this in the future,” said Katie McFadden, defending the former Manchester University medical student.
“She has clearly reflected on the impact of her actions and expressed how she is sorry for any offence caused to the family of Captain Tom.”
Budd was remanded in custody after pleading guilty to causing £200 worth of criminal damage to a war memorial last month and has spent three weeks in prison.
The 21-year-old targeted the statue in south Derbyshire. Joe Giddens
But she was spared an immediate jail sentence when District Judge Louisa Cieciora handed her a 21-week prison term, suspended for 18 months.
“You had clearly thought about what would cause the most amount of outrage and publicity,” she told Budd, from Kington, Herefordshire.
“The cost of repair was low, around £200.
“Although the substance you used was deliberately chosen as being the most demeaning and disgraceful as possible, equally it was a substance which can be easily cleaned.”
The judge noted her young age and her deeply held views on climate change, adding: “Given your actions could not or have not achieved what you wanted them to and you want to find a better way to express your message… I am just about persuaded I can suspend your sentence.”
Sir Tom shot to national fame when he raised almost £33 million for NHS charities during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic by walking laps of his garden in the run up to his 100th birthday.
He was later knighted by the Queen before he died with Covid-19 in February 2021.
Budd was in breach of a conditional discharge, imposed earlier this year for an invasion of the Oval cricket ground when she targeted the statue – a silhouette of Sir Tom – while wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “End UK private jets”.
She was also under investigation by two police forces and due to appear before magistrates by postal requisition.
Ms McFadden said Budd had been living in a caravan with a chemical toilet, so the substance was “readily available” and that she had cleaned the statue following the action using water and tissue paper.
“The thought process behind this was to cause moral disruption, to draw people’s attention to the things that are going on in the world around her, to try and make people feel something, to try and get a visceral reaction so people will stand up and start to take notice of the climate crisis,” she said.
Prosecutor David Burns said “serious distress has been caused” and told the court: “Captain Tom was a figure well-known to the public.
“His work and charity had a great impact during the Covid crisis,” he said. “The matter has caused some outrage amongst society in general.”
Speaking outside court Budd’s mother, Hattie Budd said: “My daughter’s actions have been headline news, she has been belittled and scorned.
“Meanwhile, the Government is failing in its duty of care to all our children, young people and future generations by supporting the interests of institutions which are contributing to climate breakdown, a fact that should make headlines every day.”
She added: “We love our daughter and acknowledge the distress she has caused as well as the distress and fear she feels.
“She has angered and horrified many people, but her intention was to make the point that the future of our country, our NHS and humanity is worth standing up for.”