Louis Andrews July 14, 2012
A Canberra man who threw a cup of coffee at a $300,000 tapestry while ''hearing voices'' in his head has received a suspended jail sentence.
The ACT Magistrates Court heard Richard Michael Williams had been brought up ''to hate white people for their treatment of indigenous people''.
And according to a pre-sentence report, the 43-year-old did not believe the wool-and-cotton tapestry held any cultural significance.
The tapestry, hanging in the National Library of Australia, was dedicated to the memory of Kenneth Myer, philanthropist and department store dynasty member.
In February this year, Williams walked into the library, threw a cup of coffee at the artwork and left the building.
But he was captured on CCTV and picked up by police.
Police found a small amount of cannabis when they took him into custody.
Williams, who at the time was staying at the tent embassy, pleaded guilty to cannabis possession and willfully marking Commonwealth property.
The court heard the man had a ''very unsettled childhood'' and had been the victim of abuse in the past.
And Williams was allegedly hearing voices in his head at the time of the crime, telling him to deface the valuable artwork.
It appears the tapestry sustained no lasting damage.
Chief magistrate Lorraine Walker said court documents portrayed the man as an intelligent person and a very talented dancer.
The court heard Williams acknowledged that he was ''brought up to hate white people for their treatment of indigenous people''.
Ms Walker said the willfully marking property charge was at the ''mid-to-high'' end of the range of seriousness because of the tapestry's monetary and cultural value.
The magistrate jailed Williams for three months, wholly suspended on entering into an 18-month good-behaviour order.
She also fined him $110 in relation to the cannabis charge.