An international graffiti gang which blighted trams in Croydon with their tags has been sentenced today.

The group, known as the DPM crew, is thought to have cost the rail industry at least £600,000 with their crime spree which ran from 2004 until their arrest in 2006.

Eight members of the group pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to conspiracy to commit criminal damage following the British Transport Police's Operation Shuttle.

The gang were handed punishments ranging from suspended jail sentences and community service to two year terms today.

During sentencing Detective Superintendent Michael Field, who led the inquiry, said: "This was a wholesale self-indulgent campaign to damage property on an industrial scale."

He added: "This group targeted the rail network in a guerrilla-type fashion. Often masked and working under the cover of night they would strike at railway depots and sidings across the country to scrawl their crew name.

"As the evidence shows the tags used were pure vandalism. There is nothing artistic in what this group engaged in.

"They sought only to gain some sort of kudos by branding trains, station walls and platforms with the name of their so-called crew. They thought they were untouchable.

"Frankly, some of their scrawlings could best be described as school pupils having to re-write lines on a chalk board for detention or other punishment.

"Now the courts have handed them a different type of sentence and hopefully these vandals and others that seek to gain notoriety through such activity may be forced to rethink their actions."

Among the areas the group targeted were Grove Park, Orpington and Croydon Tramlink depots.

Although most of their crimes were concentrated in south London they also committed offences in Liverpool, Manchester and Sunderland as well as in Amsterdam, the Czech Republic and Paris.

The trial was one of the largest for graffiti conspiracy ever to have been brought to court.

Andrew Gillman, from Battersea, received the longest jail term, two years, for his part in the crimes.

Just before Christmas 2007, while on bail, he had taken on a casual job under a false name with the BBC.

As part of his job with the art department for EastEnders he had helped decorate the soap's outdoor set at Elstree studios with tags - including the initials DPM.

The convictions

  • Jack Binnie, 25, Adelaide Road, Lewisham - received a 12 month suspended sentence and 200 hours unpaid work order
  • Andrew Gillman, 25, St Johns Hill, Battersea - received a two-year jail term
  • Ziggy Grudzinskas, 25, Ulundi Road, Blackheath - received an 18-month jail term
  • Alex McClelland, 24, Croxted Road, West Dulwich - received a nine-month suspended sentence and 150 hours unpaid work order
  • Matthew Pease, 24, Manor Lane, Lewisham - received a 15-month jail term
  • Paul Andrew Stewart, 26, Kellerton Road, Lewisham - received an 18-month jail term
  • Matthew Tanti, 23, Telford Avenue, Streatham - received a 12-month suspended sentence and 200 hours unpaid work order
  • Slav Zinoviev, 25 St Johns Hill, Battersea - received an 18-month jail term