Doncaster Fathers4Justice campaigner appealing against jail sentence

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A Fathers4Justice campaigner from Doncaster jailed for six months for defacing a portrait of the Queen with paint in Westminster Abbey is due to appeal against the length of his sentence.

Tim Haries, 42, of Bellis Avenue, who told jurors he vandalised the picture to highlight the “social justice issue of our time”, will have his challenge heard at the Court of Appeal in London by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Keith and Mr Justice Royce.

Haries denied a charge of causing criminal damage of more than £5,000, but was found guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January.

The father-of-two smuggled a can of purple spray paint into the Abbey on June 13 last year before writing the word “help” on the painting.

When sentencing Haries on February 5, the Recorder of Westminster Judge Alistair McCreath, told him: “This was a deliberate and planned causing of damage to a valuable item of property on public display, carried out as a publicity exercise.”

The judge said the sentence must acknowledge Haries’ distress and unhappiness, but have regard to the case’s aggravating features, and to a degree deter others.

Haries decided to represent himself towards the end of his trial and directly addressed jurors, telling them he carried out the act as a protest against the “social catastrophe” of fathers not being allowed access to their children.

He said that, while he had nothing against the Queen personally, he targeted her portrait because of her symbolic role as head of the justice system.

The portrait by artist Ralph Heimans was cordoned off by a rope in the Abbey’s Chapter House as part of a wider exhibition to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The 11ft by 9ft painting was bought by Westminster Abbey for £160,000 after being on display in the artist’s native Australia.

The oil on canvas depicts the Queen in the sacrarium of Westminster Abbey, also known as the Coronation Theatre, standing at the centre circle of the Cosmati pavement, on the spot where she was crowned.

The court heard it cost £9,204 to repair, with insurers paying £4,000 and an excess of £5,000.