Bathurst War Memorial vandalised before ANZAC service

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The carillion war memorial in Bathurst in Central Western NSW was vandalised just hours before a dawn ANZAC day service. Police allege that five teenage girls aged 15 and 16 were involved.

'Diggers' who had been looking forward to the dawn service said they were bought to tears after they learned that statements saying "ANZAC murderers" and "Aussies don't fight" were painted on the war memorial.

Police say they were called to the memorial after reports that a group of vandals had covered the shrine with offensive graffiti. Sergent Andrew Holand from Bathurst police said "Police arrived a short time later and observed that they had painted approximately one metre high, [beige coloured] slogans all the way around the exteriors of the war memorial using words such as "ANZAC murderers" and "Aussies don't fight" along with peace symbols".

"They've then taken the remnants of the four-litre paint cans and splashed these on the doors and external steps of the war memorial," he said.

When police located the group of five teenagers some were still covered in paint. All were taken to Bathurst Police Station where the 16 year-old girl was charged with maliciously damaging a shrine or war memorial and malicious damage to police property. It is alleged after she was arrested she damaged a police cell.

The four other girls involved, all aged 15 will be cautioned under the state's Youth Offenders Act.

Jim McFerran from the Bathurst Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) said he was humbled by efforts to clean up the graffiti. He said an effort involving RSL members, local army personnel, council workers, volunteer firefighters and a group of young men on their way home after a night out.

"We had about a dozen young fellas that were going home from the pub, they sort of stopped and said: 'What's going on here?'," said Mr McFerran.

"When they got told, they sort of walked over, bloody downed their things, grabbed ... pads and rags and starting getting in there with the rest of us."

NSW Premier Morris Iemma condemned the vandalism, saying "They need a history lesson and a good kick up the backside as well."