A British backpacker is facing 10 years in a Thai prison after spray painting "Scousse Lee" on 800-year-old fortress wall as he complained that he "was blind drunk".
Lee Furlong, 23, from Liverpool, was caught on CCTV using a can of black spray paint to deface the historic Tha Phae gate in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, on October 18 in the early hours of the morning.
The young backpacker, who faces prosecution under Thailand’s Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums Act 1961, said he had been drinking all day before the incident happened and that he is “terrified” at what will happen to him.
The graffiti sparked outrage among locals who accused Mr Furlon, and 23-year-old Canadian Brittney Schneider who was arrested alongside him, of disrespecting the ancient monument and their country.
Both were arrested on Thursday afternoon after police took just a matter of hours to track them back to their hostel located near the ancient wall. They were then marched down to the site, where they both confessed to the crime, after the incorrect spelling of ‘scouse’ had been cleaned off the wall.
Speaking on the phone from his hotel, Mr Furlon – who now faces either 10 years in jail or a one million baht (£25,000) fine – said: "I’d been drinking all day. I’d had some bad news from my family and I went out drinking. I mean, I was really, really drunk.
"I saw the spray can and just picked it up. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing. When I woke up the police were here.
"They took me to the station and I was in shock. I’m terrified of what will happen now."
Mr Furlon, who had been working as a gardener in Kent, south east England, was due to return to the UK this weekend after travelling around Thailand since September 23. It was the first time he had travelled abroad alone, his mother revealed.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Michelle Furlon, 46, she was “devastated” by her son’s behaviour and that the family was forced to borrow money for his £3,500 bail.
She said: “I am devastated it’s happened in a historic place. If I could go over to Thailand and clean it off myself then I would.
“I would also apologise to everyone he’s offended. That’s not how he was brought up but he’s done a stupid thing.
“We aren’t in a good financial position to deal with it all to be honest. It’s the last thing we wanted.”
Mrs Furlong said that her son suffers from a genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis which causes epilepsy, mood swings and benign tumours on his brain, adding: “Having this condition changes your personality. Unfortunately, hearing about his dying gran caused him to go out and get drunk and spray-paint the wall.”
Mr Furlon said that police had taken away his passport ahead of a court hearing in two weeks, adding: "I’ve spoken to my family and I’m trying to get some help. I really need it. I honestly don’t know what to do.”
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