Source: Brisbanetimes – 12.9.2012
Rail Hoons was their name and graffiti was their game.
Over a 3½ year period leading up to their arrests in October last year, Curtis Charles Olive and David Houghton caused more than $86,000 worth of damage by graffiti-ing walls, poles, trains, buses, buildings and bus shelters across Brisbane.
Both pleaded guilty to numerous counts of graffiti-ing in the Brisbane District Court today; the court heard the pair had essentially formed a case against themselves, after admitting their offences to police during separate interviews when officers had only arrested them on suspicion of being part of a graffiti gang known as the Rail Hoons.Olive, described by his defence barrister as having “considerable talent as an artist”, had been charged with 24 counts of wilful damage by graffiti and one count of wilful damage, having claimed responsibility for 181 specific acts of graffiti which ranged in size from 10 centimetres to covering half a train.
Police estimated Olive, now 23 years old, caused more than $35,000 worth of damage between the ages of 18 and 22.
Houghton was estimated to have caused more than $54,000 in damage over the same time period while aged between 17 and 20.
Now 22, Houghton was charged with 22 counts of wilful damage by graffiti, two counts of wilful damage related to indecent graffiti (genitalia) and one count of wilful damage, having admitted to 305 specific acts, ranging in similar sizes to Olive’s offending.
The court was told police only had information that the men were part of the Rail Hoons gang; their houses were searched and spray paint cans were found, but officers had no idea of the extent of the pair’s offending until they were interviewed.
Both voluntarily confessed to police and that information was used to form the cases against them.
Houghton told police that graffiti-ing trains was the “best part”, calling it the “ultimate adrenalin rush” and the interviewing officers recorded that he expressed pride in his work, asking to see photos.
Olive described his graffiti-ing as a hobby which had “taken over his life” as he loved the “risk” and thrill seeking involved.
However the court was told both had also apologised for the damage they had caused and had bright futures ahead of them, Olive as a member of the Army Reserve with an opportunity to join the McDonald’s restaurant trainee manager program and Houghton as a plumber.
Both offered to pay restitution to the authorities for the damage they had caused and both had made changes to remove themselves from the Rail Hoon lifestyle.
Calling graffiti “annoying and offensive” to those who did not share the same appreciation of street art as Olive and Houghton and labelling the extent of their offending “inexplicable”, Judge Richard Jones said any sentence he handed down needed to send a “clear message” to “denounce this sort of behaviour”.
But he said that “on balance” any jail term would impede their rehabilitation, given their bright future prospects. Houghton was sentenced to six months imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years, for his indecent graffiti acts and two years probation for his other counts, to be served concurrently.
Judge Jones sentenced Olive to 240 hours community service and two years probation.
Both were ordered to pay restitution to Queensland Rail and the Brisbane City Council for the damage they had caused.