A graffiti artist who went on a two-year rampage of spray-painting his ‘tag’ has been told he must pay his debt back to society.

Thomas Toczek was caught when police officers discovered his sign NOK on sketchbooks at his home.

Magistrates in Bingley heard yesterday that he had daubed his tag on buildings in the Sandy Lane and Allerton area.

He had targeted skate ramps in Greenwood Park, Sandy Lane, and daubed on the Welcome to Sandy Lane sign. He had also attacked a home.

The 19-year-old trainee mechanic of Spring Street, Sandy Lane, pleaded guilty to causing £100 in criminal damage at a house in Allerton Road, Bradford, and to damaging skate ramps in Greenwood Park to the value of £1,000.

He asked for 28 other offences to be taken into account, which the bench told amounted to about £6,000 in damage.

Toczek was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay £520 in compensation. The Bench ordered his art books to be destroyed. Presiding magistrate Judy Hinchcliffe told him he had narrowly escaped prison. She urged the probation service to make him carry out his community service near to home.

She said: “We feel that if you were seen trying to improve your community that would ensure you taking part in your community and also that others could see you making an effort to put right what you have done wrong.”

Mark Steeples, prosecuting, said that the graffiti attacks had made a “huge impact” on the Sandy Lane and Allerton area.

The damage had been noted by Bradford Council’s ward co-ordinator Chris Flavin and reported that between 40 and 50 signs had been cleared from council property and it had given an extremely negative impression of the area.

Mr Steeples said there had been uproar in the community – particularly over the spray painting to the Welcome to Sandy Lane sign.

When arrested Toczek was co-operative with police, admitted what he had done and accepted all the other 28 counts of damage.

He told officers he did not realise it was illegal.

Ismail Uddin, for Toczek, said the incidents had happened when his client was aged 16 and 17 and immature. He was now extremely remorseful. “He has been stigmatised in the community where he lives and he is now aware of the impact he has caused,” said Mr Uddin.

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