"Every time you have to spend hours washing damaged walls you can reflect on your own conduct."
Samuel Leighton-Dore

5 Sep 2018 - 10:23 AM  UPDATED 5 Sep 2018 - 10:23 AM

The man who defaced a mural of George Michael in Sydney's inner-west has been handed 300 hours of community service and ordered to pay $14,000 in compensation for the damage caused.

Claiming that he was "defending his religion", 24-year-old Ben Gittany vandalised the large-scale artwork, created by popular artist Scott Marsh, shortly after the results of the marriage equality postal survey were announced last year.

According to Buzzfeed News, local magistrate Carolyn Huntsman told Gittany: "What was left [on the wall] was a large area of black paint which arguably was a disturbing message of rejection to the community and arguably a contempt for other people."

She added: "We are not a community where violence, criminal acts and property destruction are sanctioned because you have different beliefs to other people. They had to look at it for months. It distressed the owner and the community, and it was extensive."

"Every time you have to spend hours washing damaged walls you can reflect on your own conduct."

The $14,000 in compensation will go to the owners of the mural, and includes the cost of having the artwork recreated and protected from further vandalism.

"Clearly there’s an incredible amount of black paint on that wall," Huntsman said.

"It needs to be primed, it’s a very tall wall and there is a need for lift hire."

Supporters of Gittany claimed the mural, titled St George, incited hate against Christians by appropriating religious iconography.

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