An artist who paid tribute to late Shane Warne with a wall mural is facing a criminal damages charge after a member of the public complained.
An artist who paid tribute to late cricketing legend Shane Warne by painting a mural of his face across a wall is facing graffiti charges.
Jarrod Grech had regularly used the brick wall on Canning Street in Carlton, Melbourne, as a canvas for his work, having painted it several times over the course of the past few years.
When he was just hours from finishing the Warne piece on March 30 however, two police cars pulled up and officers informed him he would be getting charged for criminal damages.
Speaking with news.com.au, Mr Grech said the wall borders an abandoned heritage listed home, which was typically covered in unsightly vandalism.
“So I usually cover the vandalism with my murals,” he said, saying the Warne piece was a cover-up of the wall’s previous feature of American rapper DMX.
“I’ve never had a problem there, I’ve been painting that wall for years.”
He told police “put up murals to inspire kids, and to help stop them covering walls with vandalism”.
Mr Grech suspected a member of public had reported him to police, which then contacted the building owner to query whether they had given permission for the wall to be painted.
“I think the police told the owner I was doing graffiti though, not that I was doing a mural,” he said.
Mr Grech, who has covered several walls in the city under his artist name JGrech, has received high praise for his talent and has previously been endorsed by the City of Melbourne.
“I’ve spoken to them before and they always have my back, they say ‘we’ll cover the vandalism and leave your murals’,” Mr Grech said.
“With the Warnie one, they said they could clear coat it for me so when it gets vandalised, it can get pressure hosed off.”
A spokesperson for the City of Melbourne didn’t confirm if that was the case, but said the organisation was aware of Mr Grech’s work on that wall.
“We’re aware that he’s done street art on that wall in the past – but this is ultimately private property,” they told news.com.au.
Victoria Police said officers were called to the property about 11.45am on March 30 in response to reports of graffiti.
”They spoke to a man at that location and have since spoken to the owner of the premises who has provided a statement in the matter,” a spokesperson said.
“An investigation into the incident is ongoing.”
Mr Grech has been requested to attend the Melbourne West Police Station by the city’s “graffiti tasking team” to give an interview for his alleged criminal damage.
The artist said he planned to fight the charge.
His Warne art has been broadly praised online, with fans describing the mural “beautiful” and
“This is a beautiful and creative way to remember him while still doing good for the community,” one person wrote in a comment on Facebook.
“You’re just so talented! It’s amazing,” another said.
Originally published as Artist behind Shane Warne mural faces criminal damages charges