Police have hit out at the “disgusting” actions of a man accused of defacing a statue in Sydney’s Martin Place of a soldier commemorating those who died in WWII.
The 43-year-old was charged after CCTV allegedly captured him about 9.30pm on Thursday removing flowers from a wreath and putting them in the statue’s hand.
He is also accused of placing a cigarette lighter on the statue’s arm, putting a cigarette in its rifle and then pouring beer on its feet.
The man was arrested nearby and charged with committing an offensive act in or on a war memorial and wilfully damaging or defacing a protected place.
Inspector Gary Coffey called the act “disgusting”.
“This is not about vandalism. This is a sacred place for the community,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio on Friday.
“Certainly (the man’s) actions are disgusting and there is no excuse for what he did. I’m sure a lot of people will be offended by what happened.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian labelled it “senseless”.
“An attack on any war memorial is an attack on Australian values and the heroic legacy of our veterans,” she tweeted.
Congratulations to the NSW Police for their quick action in arresting a suspect following the senseless act of vandalism on the Martin Place Cenotaph. An attack on any war memorial is an attack on Australian values and the heroic legacy of our veterans.
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) August 9, 2018
RSL NSW president James Brown confirmed the memorial had not been damaged despite the attack.
“But it has been disrespected and that is unacceptable to veterans and the public,” Mr Brown said.
RSL NSW, which is the guardian of the Cenotaph, is working with the City of Sydney to clean up the statue.
The man was granted conditional bail and is due to appear at the Downing Centre Local Court on September 5.