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Carnage student escapes prison sentence

26 November 2009

A student caught urinating on a war memorial after a drunken night out has escaped a jail term and been sentenced instead to seven weeks' community service under the Payback Scheme.

Nineteen-year-old Philip Laing, a sports technology student at Sheffield Hallam University, had been out with friends at an event organised by Carnage, a company running parties for students, where drinks were as cheap as £1.

He started the evening sharing a bottle of whisky with friends and later getting so drunk he could not remember the incident.

District Judge Anthony Browne generally blamed “a culture of drinking far too much” and said “something does need to be done to change this culture”.

But passing sentence the judge said to Laing: “No one forced you to take all this drink, or forced it down you – or persuaded you to commit a criminal offence – you did that all by yourself and you must take responsibility.”

DJ Browne said he considered a prison sentence but, in light of the contrition shown by Laing, made a community order for 250 hours of unpaid work for a charitable organisation.

He commented that the image of Laing urinating over the wreath of poppies at the city war memorial was “a truly shocking one”.

The maximum jail term for a public indecency offence is six months.

The local probation service will be responsible for identifying the projects on which Laing will be working but details are not usually available to the public to protect the safety of offenders.

"Probation areas have a range of projects which have already been risk assessed and health and safety checked. An offender would be fitted into one of these projects," a spokesperson for the probation service told Solicitors Journal.

"Projects have included bringing derelict areas and buildings back into public use, clearing church yards, country streams and unused allotments, repairing park benches and playground equipment. A lot of work is undertaken on environmental projects and also with schools, community centres, with faith groups and local authorities".

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Procedures Local government