LONDON (Reuters) - A university student who was photographed urinating over a war memorial was warned on Wednesday that he could be jailed for the “disgusting act.”
Philip Laing, 19, was charged by police after the picture, which showed him urinating on a poppy wreath following a drinking session in the centre of Sheffield, appeared on a national newspaper’s website.
“The image of your urinating over the poppy wreath on the war memorial in this city will make most turn away in disgust, shock and sadness,” said District Judge Anthony Browne.
“It has undoubtedly distressed and upset many. The war memorial is a sacred and a special place.”
Laing, who appeared in the dock wearing a poppy, pleaded guilty to outraging public decency when he appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.
Browne adjourned sentencing for reports, saying all options including custody, were open, the Press Association reported.
The court heard that Laing, a sports technology student at Sheffield Hallam University, had drunk a bottle of whisky before attending an organised student drinking session organised by a private company, Carnage UK.
“Carnage is the name of the organisation who promote this type of activity and some might say that somebody should be standing alongside you this morning,” the judge said.
The court was told Laing had no recollection of the events of the night of October 11 until he was contacted by the university press office and shown the photograph which was later published on the Daily Mail website.
Prosecutor Ian Conway said Laing had immediately admitted the offence when arrested and told police he was “very, very drunk, the drunkest I’ve ever been since I’ve been at university.”
“The disgusting and reprehensible act the defendant carried out was in no way premeditated, targeted or politically motivated,” Conway said.
“His actions were sadly the result of having consumed large amounts of alcohol.”
Laing’s lawyer Tim Hughes said his client had become caught up in a culture of drinking far too much and added that Laing’s grandparents had fought in the war.
“It’s difficult to articulate just how embarrassed and ashamed this young man is,” he said.
Laing was released on bail until the next hearing on November 26.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison