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Two men sentenced for disorderly conduct over Liberation Day wreath destruction

Two men sentenced for disorderly conduct over Liberation Day wreath destruction

Friday 09 April 2021

Two men sentenced for disorderly conduct over Liberation Day wreath destruction


Community service orders were handed down for two mens' role in the destruction of the Liberation memorial wreath last year.

Martins Biders, 24 and Arthurs Rupeiks, 20, both appeared in the Magistrates Court charged with behaving in a disorderly manner.

Neither man had been named up until this point due to a high level of public interest and the amount of “threats” made on Bailiwick Law Enforcement's social media pages. 

 Richard McMahon Wreath Laying War Memorial

Pictured: The Liberation Wreath had been laid by the Bailiff at the time, Sir Richard Collas, at the War Memorial at the top of Smith Street – it was found destroyed by a member of the public the following day. A new wreath was then laid by the current Bailiff, Richard McMahon, pictured, in his first official act. 

On 9 May 2020, both Rupeiks and Biders were drinking in and around the Sunken Gardens with friends. During this time Rupeiks picked up the wreath to take a photo with it. It was then knocked out of his hands and Rupeiks left it where it was, reportedly "out of panic". 

He was aware that it had been laid by Sir Richard Collas, the then-Bailiff, after watching the wreath-laying ceremony on TV.

After seeing the social media uproar, Rupeiks handed himself into Bailiwick Law Enforcement to explain what had happened, and he was subsequently arrested. During their investigation into the incident, Guernsey Police found pictures on a phone that identified Biders, who was also pictured holding the wreath. 

Neither man could confirm who had destroyed the wreath despite it being dropped, and due to a lack of CCTV footage, the Court couldn’t charge either for criminal damage. The prosecution said it was feasible that someone else could’ve damaged it after the two men dropped it and left the scene. 

 mags_Court_2.jpg

Pictured: “A Judge should remain dispassionate,” said Judge Graeme McKerrell when handing down his sentence in the Magistrate's Court.

During the defence of Biders, Advocate Liam Roffey urged the Judge to keep in mind that any sentence should be just and proportionate and not based on the intense social media backlash. Advocate Roffey highlighted the fact that this act was a blot on a previous good record.

Advocate Phoebe Cobb said Rupeiks had given a guilty plea as soon as he possibly could after turning up to the police station, and Prosecution Advocate Rory Calderwood admitted at this point that there would simply be no case if the defendant hadn’t come forward.

During his sentencing remarks, Judge McKerrell cited both these points, but said he couldn’t ignore the context in which the crime had been committed.

“I’m not local, but I’ve lived in Guernsey a long time – I’m proud to live here,” he said. “It’s not hard to understand the hurt people felt.”

Biders was handed an 80-hour community service order; due to his early co-operation, Rupeiks was given a reduced 60 hours of community service.

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