A Fathers4Justice campaigner from South Yorkshire appeared to scrawl the word ‘help’ in large purple letters across a portrait of the Queen hanging in Westminster Abbey, a court heard.
Tim Haries, aged 42, is alleged to have smuggled a can of purple spray paint into the abbey on June 13 last year, before defacing the £160,000 oil painting.
Jurors at London’s Southwark Crown Court heard that, moments afterwards, Haries told an abbey steward who tackled him to the ground: “Sorry mate, I’ve nothing against the Queen.”
He then told a police officer he was ‘guilty as charged’.
Allister Walker, prosecuting, said Haries repeatedly shouted ‘Fathers for justice’ as he scrawled the graffiti.
Haries, of Bellis Avenue, Balby, Doncaster, denies criminal damage of more than £5,000. Jurors heard the painting cost £7,300 to repair.
Giving evidence, steward Peter Crook said he was on duty at the exhibition when he noticed a man’s leg being raised over the rope in front of the painting.
“They started shouting, ‘Fathers for justice’, and then I heard a hissing sound which was spray paint,” he said. “I got to him and was pulling him back. We fell over the barrier and landed on the floor. As we were falling he kept shouting, ‘Fathers for justice’. I asked him to shut up which he did.”
Jurors heard photographs of the incident were later posted on a Fathers4Justice Facebook page.
Mr Walker said Haries’ defence was unclear.
He told jurors: “It’s quite difficult frankly at this stage to say what sort of case this might be.”
The trial continues.