HE WAS artist-in-residence on a Southampton estate and his name and fame was widespread - but the 12-year-old designer had few fans.

Marcus Dunn was a graffiti menace, responsible for scrawling on dozens of fences, bus shelters and walls in Lordshill.

That was until he turned over a new leaf.

Marcus put a lid on his illegal doodling after he was caught by a neighbourhood warden. Instead of dodging the punishment, the Year 8 pupil from Mountbatten School, Romsey, held his hands up and offered to clean up the scribble.

Southampton City Council has now set aside a special graffiti wall on the estate - and Marcus has just finished work on its inaugural mural.

"At first I was annoyed," said the youngster, of St Martin's Close.

"But it didn't take too long to clean the stuff off. It was for the good because now we've got the boards for graffiti which saves people getting done for it.

"Also, I've got into these big paintings which is better than just going round with marker pens."

The budding designer, who wants to be a professional graffiti artist, spent a week working after school on the 8ft x 4ft mural, near Rozel Court, in Boniface Crescent.

Neighbourhood warden Annette Williams said: "The graffiti boards are there for everyone, but Marcus has been working on his own design. We would love people to improve their space and youngsters to start using these boards.

"We caught Marcus after a resident spotted his tag, identified him and told me where he lived. Marcus then took me round the whole estate and showed me every tag he had done, and removed them all himself."

Marcus's dad, Lee Nurse, said: "As long as he's putting graffiti in the right place it's OK. I was a bit annoyed at when I first found out what he was up to, but he's happy now he's got this wall and he's actually pretty good."

City councillor Liz Mizon added: "This is a success for residents working together with neighbourhood wardens to improve their estate. Well done to Marcus for having the courage to tell his story."