Thursday 19 September 2019

Graffiti vandal quit his train clean programme over 'solvent reaction'

Jonathan Zhang only completed a day of the programme
Jonathan Zhang only completed a day of the programme

A graffiti vandal who was ordered to clean trains after he targeted Irish Rail property with spray cans only turned up for one day because he claimed he suffered a reaction to the chemicals he was asked to use.

Jonathan Zhang (20), of Marian Grove, Rathfarnham, appeared before Judge Ann Ryan at Dublin District Court yesterday.

He had previously been assigned to complete five days of a restorative justice programme after he admitted "tagging" rail property at the Merrion Level Crossing in March last year.


An incident of graffiti on a Dart train in August 2016 at Malahide Quarry was also before the courts.

Zhang had failed to appear in court on July 21 last year, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

He subsequently appeared in court following his arrest last January 10.

At that hearing, an agreement was reached between the prosecution and Irish Rail.

It was arranged that Zhang would enter into the restorative justice programme to give him an opportunity to make restitution to the company.

It would also allow him to avoid a criminal conviction and possibly a custodial sentence.

However, Irish Rail station manager Gavin Collins told Judge Ryan that Zhang had only turned up for one day of the programme.

James Jack damaged trains
James Jack damaged trains

Zhang's lawyer said he had suffered a reaction to the chemicals he was using and could not continue.

Mr Collins said Zhang had been provided with full protective clothing, including gloves, eye goggles and a breathing mask, and had been trained in how to work with the chemicals.

"We take safety seriously, and the equipment he was supplied with was compliant for use with those chemicals," he said.

"Jonathan never indicated any difficulty on the day he attended."

Counsel for Zhang said it was when he got home that the reaction was noticed. He added that Zhang was willing to complete a restorative justice programme.

Judge Ryan asked that he be assigned a different project.

Mr Collins stressed that Zhang had been given every chance to prove himself.

However, the judge said that while she did not want to cause Irish Rail any difficulty, she would recommend another programme.

Counsel for Zhang said his client was happy to undertake the work.

Judge Ryan put the case back to December 17.

In a separate case, a Swords man was ordered to complete a restorative justice programme after being part of a group that caused €3,200 worth of damage to Dart carriages last February.


Evidence was given that on February 21, a call was received at Clontarf Garda Station to report three youths spray painting a Dart train.

When gardai arrived, the three ran off, but James Jack, of Lissenhall Court, was later questioned and a carrier bag he had with him was found to contain spray paint cans.

Jack had brought €750 with him to court as compensation to Irish Rail.

He has no previous convictions, the court was told.

"This was a stupid thing to do," Judge Ryan told him, adding that he was a talented young man who should use his gifts in college or in a creative and positive way.

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