Man charged over 800 tags

AMY MAAS
Last updated 11:14 23/01/2014

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An Auckland man is being painted as one of the country's most prolific taggers, with police alleging that he carried out over 800 separate acts of vandalism.

Ross James Goode, 24, appeared in Auckland District Court today on charges of intentionally damaging Auckland Council property on more than 832 occasions.

He first appeared in court last month where he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Police allege that between 2010 and 2013, Goode tagged the word ''gosus'' and derivatives including ''gosys'', ''yosus'' and ''yosys'' on Auckland Council property.

If convicted, Goode could face jail time, with a maximum penalty of seven years behind bars.

In 2011, Napier man Blair Kitchen was jailed for 14 months after he pleaded guilty to doing 514 tags in the space of a year, causing $102,000 damage.

Goode was arrested and charged after being ''caught in the act'' tagging the word ''gosys'' on the side of a Karangahape Rd shopping centre in September.

He pleaded not guilty and told Fairfax Media last month he had ''no idea'' what those words stood for.

''When you plead not guilty [police] tend to come down on you harsher,'' he said.

''It's not necessarily all me, there's other people I know of. I know a few people who are in that [tagging] group.''

He would not comment further because he felt it would jeopardise his case in court.

Auckland central police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said Goode was arrested after a multi-agency approach, which included the council's graffiti removal team.

The council's team had identified, photographed and removed all 832 tags, which were allegedly linked to Goode, she said

The council has taken a hardline approach against tagging and spends about $4 million of ratepayers' money annually on removing and preventing graffiti .

A spokesperson could not comment on the cost of removing tags.

Councillor George Wood said that as a part of the community safety forum's region-wide graffiti strategy, the council uses a private investigating firm to carry out investigations into prolific taggers.

The removal team is also required to get rid of graffiti within 24 hours of it being reported.

''Being hard-nosed in relation to dealing with graffiti taggers has paid off immensely. I would be hoping that if taggers do continue with their activity, they will be dealt with severely,'' he said.

Wood added that Goode's charges were ''a huge number''.

''I would hope the courts would take appropriate cognisance of the fact that it is prolific tagging.''

Goode has been remanded on bail until he reappears in court next month.

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- Fairfax Media

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