Woman charged after 'slapping teenager who vandalised remembrance garden'


Last updated at 12:41 04 January 2008

The daughter of a Second World War RAF pilot was last night charged with assault after allegedly slapping a boy she believed had vandalised a remembrance garden.

Julie Lake, 50, claims the 15-year-old was one of a number of youths who had attacked the memorial in her village dedicated to those killed fighting for Britain.

Her grandfather also died in the First World War and she felt it was her duty to intervene.

But Mrs Lake was arrested after giving a boy, whom she believed to be the ringleader, a talking-to and a "cuff round the ear" just before Christmas.

Before her arrest, Mrs Lake said she had become frustrated by youths vandalising the garden at Mangotsfield, near Bristol.

She said: "The memorial is a sacred place - it's like a grave.

"How dare these youngsters tarnish the memories of those who made a sacrifice for future generations?

"I've called the police and I've tried to talk to these kids but I've got nowhere.

"I lost my temper in frustration after two years of trying to get something done and immediately the police are after me. It's ridiculous."

Yesterday she voluntarily went to Staple Hill police station in Bristol, flanked by 15 Royal British Legion members who went to support her.

Outside she said: "Long after this is over, we will continue our fight against anti-social behaviour.

"I'm ready for the police and actually quite looking forward to it."

Mrs Lake has previously claimed 15 youths surrounded her and mockingly asked if her husband, who was in their car, was going to rescue her.

"I saw red," said Mrs Lake.

"They took my car registration and rang the police. They know their rights, they don't care about anyone else's."

She said many older villagers were too scared to venture out at night.

Gangs of teenagers in hooded tops have carried out a series of attacks on the memorial garden. They have daubed offensive graffiti on its stone cross, ridden bikes over wreaths and carved their names into benches.

Mrs Lake added: "I'll go to prison if I have to because this is not about me, it is about the whole community who are scared to leave their homes.

"My father and grandfather serving the forces have made me very passionate about honouring our soldiers and what they sacrificed."

Parents of the teenager last night said in a statement: "Our son has never been in trouble with the police. He is a hard-working, diligent student and would never desecrate a memorial to the war dead."

Mrs Lake was bailed to appear before magistrates on January 17.

Assault carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a £5,000 fine.

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