Man arrested after painting post box gold for Olympics hero
13 August 2012
A man has been arrested for vandalism after painting a nearby post box gold as a tribute to an Olympic sailing champion.
54-year-old Rob Smith of Lymington was nabbed by police after he sought to honour gold medal winner Ben Ainslie, who lives and trains locally, by spraying a post box in the high street with golden car paint at 1:30am on Saturday.
Smith was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and released on bail later that day.
Ainslie has already had a post box painted gold in his honour in Cornwall, where he was raised, but Smith felt that Ainslie had a strong connection to the local area as well, and decided to take matters into his own hands.
Describing the choice not to paint a post box in Lymington as “madness”, Smith justified his act of potentially criminal redecoration by claiming “all of Lymington believes that the Post Office made the wrong choice in painting one down in Cornwall”.
"I did it because I'm a passionate sportsman, I think the Olympics have been brilliant, Ben's achievements have been outstanding,” said Smith.
"Everything about Ben is Lymington, he lives here, most of his sailing friends are based down here and for all of us that know him down here, we just wanted to say thank you for being the best sailor in Olympic history. We've got to recognise these people and say thank you."
But the Post Office took a dim view of Smith’s enthusiasm, with a spokesman stating that “We are extremely disappointed that someone has chosen to vandalise this particular post box.
“It is illegal to tamper with any of our post boxes and we are liaising with our engineers to ensure that it is repainted red as soon as possible."
The Post Office vowed during the Olympics to celebrate Team GB’s achievements by painting local post boxes in a golden hue for every gold medal won.
But some people have decided the scheme did not go far enough, as the past two weeks have seen some post boxes decorated in bronze and silver by impetuous residents of various locales.