A HOMELESS man who took the sword from Constantine the Great’s statue near York Minster and wielded it in the street may spend three years paying for the damage.

John Flanagan, 31, who lives at York’s Arc Light homeless shelter, faces having £5 a week deducted from his benefits.

This will go to meet the repair bill of £783, which was paid by York Civic Trust after the vandalism.

York magistrates, who imposed the compensation order and also gave Flanagan a two-year conditional discharge, were told he wielded the sword in the street .

This was after he kicked it from the statue of the Roman emperor, which is of the emperor in seated pose outside York Minster.

His solicitor, Keith Allen, said Flanagan admitted it was a ‘foolish and stupid’ thing to do, and he was deeply ashamed he would be associated with such actions through coverage of the case in the press.

He said Flanagan had climbed up on the statue and the sword became dislodged when he pushed or kicked at it, and then he had swung it around briefly.

He said Flanagan had been treated in mental health hospitals a few times, was subject to a community treatment order and had received treatment for drug-induced psychosis.

Martin Butterworth, prosecuting, said the statue incident had been captured on CCTV camera, and footage was shown to the magistrates in which Flanagan could be seen on the statue, and in the vicinity with the sword in his hand.

He said Flanagan had wielded the sword in the vicinity of some girls and had tried to put it in a drain.

Mr Butterworth said York Civic Trust, a registered charity, had described his actions as ‘mindless vandalism.’

They said the act had not only cost them money but also had an impact on the general view of the iconic statue.

Flanagan pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the statue and also possession of the drugs cannabis and mephedrone.

Constantine was announced emperor in Roman York, or Eboracum as it was then known, by the army on the announcement of his father’s death in 306AD.

The statue was commissioned by the the Civic Trust in 1998 and stands outside the Minster’s south entrance.