Two people arrested yesterday for vandalizing the Thapae Gate are facing up to 10 years in jail after being charged with damaging a historical moment.
The pair – British man Lee Furlong and Canadian national Brittney Lorretta Katherine Schneider, both 23, have confessed to the crime, saying that they were drunk and thought it would be funny to spray paint the gate.
“Scousse Lee B,” which was painted on the western side of the Gate near the intersection of Rachadamnoen Road, apparently refers to Mr. Furlong, a Scousse or Scousser being someone who hails from Liverpool in the U.K.
Whereas graffiti of any sort in Thailand is a crime it’s not usually a serious one. Spray painting an historical monument of national importance, however, is.
The pair have been charged under Section 32 of the Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums 1961 that reads “Any person who trespasses ancient monument or damages, destroys, causes depreciation in value to or makes useless of any ancient monument, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or to a fine not exceeding seven hundred thousand Baht or to both.”
While the original act reads seven years and 700,000 baht, reports claim that the number was later revised to 10 years and one million baht.
It’s difficult at this stage to know how hard authorities will apply the law but it’s unlikely the pair will get off without at least a small prison sentence.
Sentiment on Chiang Mai Thai-language social media saw some suggesting that they should be punished by having their hands cut off and in some cases far worse.
The Thapae Gate was constructed in 1296 and although the modern version is mostly a reproduction of the original constructed in the 1980s, it uses bricks from the original.