A retired regional NSW council worker turned “pothole protester” who became entangled in a legal fight with his former employer has had his day in court and won.
Michael Crump, 70, has secured a victory against Griffith City Council, after he was charged with vandalism for spray painting marks on the town’s main street next to holes that he believed needed to be fixed.
The courtroom battle between the two parties began after Mr Crump claims he was spotted by the council as he was painting Yambil Street – known locally as “Shambles Street” – on December 4 last year.
Mr Crump, who worked for the council for two decades and still sits on its traffic committee, was subsequently charged by police with the criminal offence of “destroy or damage property”.
He pleaded guilty to one count of destroying or damaging property in Griffith Local Court on October 15, where he was spared a conviction and was sentenced to a conditional release order for six months.
Mr Crump, who is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, told NCA NewsWire he wasn’t afraid to stand up for his town and that he was ecstatic with the “emphatic win”.
He said he spray painted the street to draw attention to the holes, which he had been intending to write a report about to present to his fellow traffic committee members.
“Marking faults in the road was standard practice. But I didn’t have the authority to do it according to the council. I pleaded guilty to it. Yes, I was guilty of doing the circle,” he said.
The council promptly filled in the holes he had marked and fixed several others on the road but then it fined Mr Crump and contacted police.
Mr Crump said the council was seeking $5000 in compensation, which it later reduced to $2800, on the grounds that it would take 16.5 hours of “repair work” to remove the spray paint.
“Sixteen-and-a-half hours. You could build a bloody road for that,” said Mr Crump, who the court ruled did not have to pay the fine.
Griffith City Council general manager Brett Stonestreet said the council was pleased the matter was finalised.
“It is not appropriate for a person to damage public property regardless of their motive for doing so,” he said.
Murray MP Helen Dalton recognised Mr Crump in NSW parliament in June with a community recognition statement, describing him as being “well-known in the area for his proactive citizenship”.