Norwich Nelson statue vandal 'wanted to start dialogue'

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Statue of Admiral Horatio NelsonImage source, Mark Houldey
Image caption,
Horatio Nelson was born in Norfolk and is seen as a son of the county

A student who defaced a statue of Admiral Lord Nelson "wanted to start a dialogue", her solicitor said.

Jae Ikhera, 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal damage at Norwich Magistrates' Court on Friday.

A 'V' in a circle was sprayed on the front of the statue and the word "DOWN" on the back in July.

Defence lawyer Simon Nicholls, said he believed the magistrate "empathised and sympathised" with the reasons why his client had defaced the statue.

"It wasn't a Colston type of bringing down but an attempt to start a discussion about people we regard as our heroes," said Mr Nicholls.

Slave trader Edward Colston's statue in Bristol was torn down and thrown into the harbour during anti-racism protests in June.

Ikhera, a student at Norwich's University of the Arts, was given a 12 month conditional discharge after admitting to the charges and fined £22, with no order for costs or compensation.

Lord Nelson's statue stands in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral. At the time the cathedral admitted Nelson had "flaws".

"Admiral Lord Nelson, although a national hero, was also like all of us flawed in some ways", a cathedral statement said.

It added the dean was committed to a review of "the place of historical figures memorialised in the cathedral and grounds".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Nelson was a British naval commander who became a national hero for his victories against the French during the Napoleonic Wars

Norwich City Council removed the graffiti from the Grade II listed statue.

"It's been cleaned and will remain in place within the grounds of the cathedral," the council said.

According to campaign group Topple the Racists, Nelson opposed the abolition of slavery. This claim has been rejected by the Nelson Society, which said his overriding ethos was "service to his country".

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