Woman pleads not guilty to painting graffiti on Stroud MP’s office

Joanna Farndale, of Strachans Close, Cainscross, was not legally represented and, despite pleading not guilty, told Cheltenham Magistrates Court she did it and explained why.

She told the court on Thursday she had painted on the office window as a protest against ‘the criminalisation of people with mental illness.’

Slogans saying ‘Get the Tories out’, ‘Enough is enough’, ‘Where’s Baillie?’ and ‘Voted against people, human rights’ appeared on Ms Baillie’s King Street office on November 28 last year.

Farndale faces a charge of causing £50 worth of damage to the windows.

Prosecutor Graham Dono said Farndale was seen buying red paint prior to the incident and was caught on CCTV causing the damage.

District Judge Nicholas Wattam observed that the paint was eventually removed with no permanent damage with the cleaning bill amounting to £50.

Judge Wattam asked Farndale: “There is evidence that you did apply paint to the window, so why have you pleaded not guilty?”

Farndale replied: “Because I tried to go down a democratic route by contacting Ms Baillie on several occasions because I had found myself in the position of being an unpaid carer for my husband since he lost his eyesight.

“I am very sick myself, yet I cannot get help. As an autistic woman, who has a severe mental illness, it seems I’m not entitled to support.

“One of the things I was protesting against was the criminalisation of people with mental illness. This was an act for democracy, not against it.

The judge observed: “Clearly you have a number of grievances with the authorities, but how is writing on the window going to make things better?”

She replied: “I painted on the window because it was a spur of the moment decision. It was not an attempt of criminal damage.

“I can’t possibly plead guilty. It would be an insult to my beliefs,” she said.

Farndale was released on unconditional bail pending a trial on June 27.

A case management hearing will be held on April 18.

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