A man has been jailed for two weeks for urinating next to a memorial to PC Keith Palmer during an event to protect monuments on Saturday.
Andrew Banks, 28, had travelled to Westminster with a group of football “lads” for the event, despite not knowing which statues he was purportedly defending from possible vandalism.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told that Banks, of Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, had been drinking through the night and admitted consuming around 16 pints.
He was arrested after pictures of him urinating by the memorial to the fallen officer, who was killed in the 2017 Westminster Bridge terror attack, circulated on social media, prompting outrage.
Tobias Ellwood, the MP who tended to PC Palmer in his dying moments, described the incident as “abhorrent”.
On Monday, Banks pleaded guilty to outraging public decency and was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment by Emma Arbuthnot, the chief magistrate for England and Wales.
Passing sentence, the judge said: “You explained that you were so drunk you didn’t know where you were urinating. You explained that a group of football supporters went up to Westminster to protect memorials.
“The irony is, of course, that rather than protecting the memorials you very nearly ended up urinating on one.”
She told Banks he had caused “much shock and upset” and said his offence was serious enough to justify a term of immediate imprisonment. He was also fined £128.
Earlier, Michael Mallon, prosecuting, told the court that Banks had been seen approaching the outer wall of the Parliamentary estate at 10.59am on Saturday, where right-wing supports had gathered, ostensibly to protect a statue of Winston Churchill and the cenotaph from Black Lives Matter protesters.
It came after protests in previous weeks had seen the statue of Chuchill defaced, while in Bristol a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader, was toppled by activists.
Police did not see Banks urinating on the wall but a member of the public captured the moment on camera, the court heard. The defendant later told police he did not have any knowledge of the memorial.
Mr Mallon said: “It is illuminating in so much that Mr Banks attend to protect the statue but he didn’t know what statues he was protecting.” He added that Banks, a Tottenham Hotspur supporter, had travelled with a group of “football lads”.
The defendant handed himself into police after his father confronted him about the image when it began circulating online.
He was said to be “remorseful” and expressed his apologies through his barrister, Stuart Harris, who told the court: “He simply didn’t know what he was urinating on.”
Banks, of previous good character, was said to be locked in a 10-year battle with alcoholism.
The memorial was unveiled outside Parliament in 2018 in recognition of PC Palmer’s service at Carriage Gates, where he was attacked.
Speaking on Sunday in response to an image circulating on social media, Commander Bas Javid of the Metropolitan Police said: “We are aware of a disgusting and abhorrent image circulating on social media of a man appearing to urinate on a memorial to PC Palmer. I feel for PC Palmer’s family, friends and colleagues.
“We have immediately launched an investigation, and will gather all the evidence available to us and take appropriate action.”
Police confirmed that a total of 113 people were arrested during the protests for offences including violent disorder, assault on police and possession of an offensive weapon.
The protest was condemned by Boris Johnson as “racist thuggery” and described as “mindless hooliganism” by police.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary said: “We have seen some shameful scenes today, including the desecration of PC Keith Palmer’s memorial in Parliament, in Westminster Square, and quite frankly that is shameful, that is absolutely appalling and shameful.”