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Graffiti Professor Stephen Graham To Pay £28k

A university professor has been ordered to pay £28,000 worth of compensation - his life's savings - for scratching "polite" graffiti such as "very silly" on cars.

Stephen Graham had mixed alcohol with medication and was dressed in his underpants and a suit jacket when he attacked 27 cars in Jesmond, Newcastle, last August.

Words he scratched with his screwdriver also included "arbitrary" and "wrong".

A red Audi A1, a grey Volvo and a Mercedes were among the cars he attacked.

Graham had admitted four counts of criminal damage and asked for another 23 cases to be taken into consideration.

A report by a forensic psychiatrist, Don Grubin, for the defence, found the professor was in a "dissociative state" when he scratched the cars, and was detached from reality.

Judge Guy Whitburn at Newcastle Crown Court said the defendant's behaviour was totally out of character but said the compensation - effectively the 48-year-old professor and his wife's life savings - must be paid in full.

The cost of repairs to each vehicle varied from around £300 to several thousand pounds, the court heard.

The night of the attack, the distinguished academic, a sleep mask still on his forehead, was found to be wearing underpants, trainers and just a suit jacket, the court heard.

He had taken antibiotics for an infection after he had a tooth removed, and was taking medication for a depressive illness.

He told police he had also drunk three quarters of a bottle of gin.

The judge said he hoped the professor, a city and society expert at Newcastle University, would not lose his job, but added he had no influence on what happened.

A university spokesman said: "Following today's court appearance of Professor Stephen Graham, we will be considering the matter through normal university procedures.

"We are unable to comment further on an individual employee."