42-year-old Michael Thomas was heard saying “it’s the only thing in Port Talbot and they’re taking it away” as he tried to break his way into the building with a can of spray paint.
The artwork, which first appeared on the side of steelworker Ian Lewis' garage in 2018, is now being sold to art collector John Brandler for an estimated £500,000 and will move to England in the coming weeks.
Thomas allegedly heard that the mural had been flogged to a fan across the border and decided to take action to stop this from going ahead - one which has now landed the Welsh man in Swansea Crown Court.
According to the court, Thomas attempted to break into the building on November 26 with a can of white spray paint. Neighbours called the police after hearing a window smash at around 5:30:AM.
"Witnesses heard him saying, 'It's the only thing in Port Talbot and they are taking it away’. Thomas intended to destroy the painting so no one else could have it,” said prosecutor Sian Cotter.
"A couple and their five-year-old child heard the defendant shouting, 'It's for us. They're taking it away, some rich man has it’. Another witness heard Thomas shouting, 'I'm going to kill it’,” she told the court.
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Thomas’ defendant, Jonathan Tarrant, argued that the act was more of a protest than a criminal intention. The 42-year-old was given a 14 month suspended prison sentence, suspended for two years. Thomas admitted to attempted burglary and criminal damage.
"There was an intention to move the Banksy artwork out of Port Talbot to the London area, and that angered you,” said Judge Geraint Walters. "It may well be that it was not Banksy's intention that the painting should ever leave Port Talbot.”
Thomas has also been ordered to wear a tag for 12 weeks and was fined £1,058.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter