An eco-activist who poured human excrement over a statue of Captain Sir Tom Moore was warned she faces up to four year in jail after admitting criminal damage.
Medical school dropout Madeleine Budd, 21, who studied in Manchester and formerly lived at Kedleston Avenue in the city, was arrested at a protest in London on Sunday following the sickening stunt in Hatton, Derbyshire.
Shocking footage of last Friday’s protest by the campaign group End UK Private Jets showed Budd defacing the monument to the 100-year-old World War Two veteran who raised more than £33 million for the NHS during the pandemic.
The captain’s family said they were deeply saddened after the footage began circulating online.
Budd filmed herself pouring a canister containing faeces and urine over the memorial to the late officer, who shot to fame 2020 when he raised millions for good causes.
She was wearing a T-shirt bearing the words ‘End UK Private Jets.’
She later declared in a video: “People are going to say that he’s a hero, people are going to say that this is profoundly, obscenely disrespectful to his life, and to the NHS he stood up for and I agree.
‘I was studying to become a doctor because I believe in taking care of people.
“If we believe that the NHS is important, if we believe in taking care of each other, if we believe that NHS workers are doing essential work, why are forcing our healthcare system into collapse, why are we forcing our civilisation into collapse, why is basically no-one taking this genocide of all humanity seriously?
‘All of this is true and the Government won’t even end UK private jets, every time one takes off, it pours a bucket of sh** and blood onto everything that Captain Tom stood for.”
Police began a probe after the campaign group posted the video on its social media pages and Budd was charged on Monday.
Appearing in the dock of Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday wearing a large brown jumper, she spoke to confirm her name and date of birth.
She gave her address as no fixed abode, and replied ‘guilty’ when a charge of criminal damage to a war memorial valued at £200 and one of breaching a conditional discharge were put to her.
She asked, “Can I say something?” at the end of the case.
The activist, who now lives in a van, appeared calm as the case against her was read out during the 30-minute hearing, but hesitated slightly before entering a plea.
Jordan Pratt, prosecuting, said she could face a longer spell in jail under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 than she would have done in the past.
The legislation, designed to clamp down on eco-protestors and protect statues from vandalism, was the subject of “Kill the Bill” protests last year.
He said: “This is an either way offence even though the value is under £5,000.
“Section 50 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act says that acts committed against a war memorial of any type become an either way offence.”
The prosecutor added: “This was an abhorrent act and I should not have to remind this court of the impact Captain Sir Tom Moore had.
“He was a figurehead and a number of people rallied around his fundraising efforts to raise tens of millions of pounds, by walking laps of his garden in the height of the pandemic.
“He was very successful at fundraising and raised a huge amount of money in order to help ease the burden for all of us in the pandemic.
“There was a high degree of planning and pre-meditation- she armed herself with a large amount of human faeces and turned it onto a statue.
“This is not a spur of the moment thing.
“There was a serious social impact to this offence. I imagine there will be a wide social outcry as a result of the commission of it.
“The value was low, but this case is not about the value at all. It is about the social impact it had.
“The officer in the case said she is a kind of ‘gun for hire’ who will get involved in any cause and will go to extreme lengths.
“There is no suggestion she is being paid for that.”
He said the seriousness of her offending would merit a sentence of between one and four years, with a “starting point” of 18 months.
He argued that she should be remanded into custody because there was a risk she could re-offend if granted bail, given her history of protesting.
Her lawyer Francesca Cociani said she wanted the case adjourned for a probation report.
She argued that her client could be safely granted bail in her van and only poses a risk at protests, but this application was refused.
District Judge Louisa Ciecora remanded Budd into custody. She is expected to be sentenced on 25 October at the same court.
If the judge on that day decides her case is too serious to be dealt with at a magistrates court ,the case could be sent to the Crown Court.
A war veteran in the public gallery said after the case “on behalf of every war veteran, thank you very much.”
Until recently Budd was at medical school in Manchester with an NHS career ahead of her, but she stopped studying to devote all of her time to campaigning on climate change.