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Man spends night in police cells after golden tribute to sailor Ben Ainslie in Lymington
Rob Smith with his charge sheet by the Lymington postbox he painted gold in honour of sailor Ben Ainslie
Restauranteur Rob Smith told the Daily Echo that he did it for Ben, for Lymington and all the other British athletes who have done the country proud during the London 2012 games.
The owner of the Haven Cafe, Bar and Bistro in Lymington was arrested in the early hours of this morning after he was caught painting the post box in the High Street gold in honour of Ben’s fourth Olympic gold medal.
The 54-year-old was driving home from work at around 1.30am when he drove past the post box and decided it was the right thing to do after so many were left disappointed that Cornwall, where Ben had grown up, had got the golden post box instead of Lymington, where the sailor lives.
Having bought two cans of spray paint earlier that day, it took Rob just 20 minutes to finish the makeover, before he was arrested for causing criminal damage and spent the night at Lymington police station.
Rob, who last saw Ben three weeks ago, said: “I don’t regret it because it wasn’t done out of malice and I really didn’t think the Post Office would mind.
“I did it for Ben, for Lymington and for all the British athletes who have taken part in the Olympics and made it such a brilliant two weeks.
“When I heard that everyone was upset that we were not getting the gold post box I knew something had to be done about it.
“Everything about Ben is Lymington, he lives here, most of his sailing friends are based down here and for all of us that know him down here, we just wanted to say thank you for being the best sailor in Olympic history.
“So when I left work I thought I would just drive past and have a look. When I got there I decided to just see what a stripe would look like and then I just did it.
“As I was finishing the policeman turned up and said that he had been watching me on the CCTV and asked what I was doing.
“I said that I was doing this for Ben Ainslie, Lymington and all the British athletes who have down fantastically well.
“I never thought I would get arrested, handcuffed and forced to spend the night in a police cell.
“But I don’t regret it because I have seen so many people enjoy the post box today and seen so many children have their photograph taken next to it. “That can’t be a bad thing."
Hampshire Police confirmed that the arrest was made and that Rob is on bail while a "resolution is sought".