Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ben Ainslie: Lymington gold postbox painter arrested

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Media captionRob Smith said he painted the post box gold using two cans of car paint

Police have arrested a man for spray painting a Royal Mail postbox gold in honour of Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie.

Rob Smith, 51, painted the postbox in Lymington High Street where the gold medallist lives.

He said: "When they said they weren't going to paint anything in Lymington, I just thought this is madness."

The father-of-three was arrested at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage, held in a police cell in Lyndhurst overnight and later released on bail.

Mr Smith, who runs a bar and restaurant in the town, said locals were outraged when they heard a post box would be painted in the sailor's honour in Cornwall, where Ainslie grew up.

He said: "He's lived here for around 15 years, all of Lymington believes that the Post Office made the wrong choice in painting one down in Cornwall, give him two."

'Passionate sportsman'

He decided to commemorate the sailor by spraying the postbox gold with two cans of car paint on his way home from work at about 01:30 BST.

Mr Smith said: "I did it because I'm a passionate sportsman, I think the Olympics have been brilliant, Ben's achievements have been outstanding.

"We've got to recognise these people and say thank you."

Royal Mail spokesman Heulyn Gwyn Davies said: "We are extremely disappointed that someone has chosen to vandalise this particular postbox.

"It is illegal to tamper with any of our postboxes and we are liaising with our engineers to ensure that it is repainted red as soon as possible."

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