|Many homeowners across the United States are currently contending with roof damage as either snow continues to fall or temperatures rise, putting some homeowners at risk for ice dams, leaks, collapsing roofs and other issues. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the Houses of Parliament are also facing several thousand dollars’ worth of debt. However, in this case, the cause was not the weather: a 23-year-old man has been accused of smashing several features of the historic landmark after a major security breach.Braydon Liam Anderson of Northampton, a rickshaw driver, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, March 8 after gaining access to the Houses of Parliament’s roof on the previous Saturday evening. During an eight-hour standoff, Anderson allegedly smashed a stained glass window, broke an ornamental crown and a CCTV camera, and pulled several pieces of brickwork and masonry off the roof. He is accused of causing £20,000 worth of damage, equal to $30,188 USD.
According to prosecutor Izolda Switala-Gribbin , tourists noticed Andersen calmly pacing on the roof of the House of Common at about 9:14 pm. It is still unclear how he gained access to the building’s upper levels. Police, firefighters and negotiators were immediately called to the scene. Two officers were sent to the roof, where they discovered Anderson smashing windows and damaging other features. When asked how he had accessed the roof, Anderson reportedly stated “by magic,” and announced “today’s the day.”
Over the course of the next few hours, Anderson continued to smash windows, before telling the officers that he had had enough and was ready to leave, and repeated “today’s the day.” When he eventually fell asleep, the officers restrained and arrested him, leaving the roof at 5:15 on Sunday morning.
On Tuesday, Switala-Gribbin informed the court that the damage caused over the course of the eighthour standoff was estimated to be in the range of £10,000 to £20,000. Accordingly, Andersen has been accused of trespassing on a protected site and criminal damage. Switala-Gribbin and the Houses of Parliament have not commented on the work that will be necessary to repair the roof, although they will likely be extensive; the Houses of Parliament were rebuilt in the mid-19th century and will therefore likely require special care.
“There needs to be great care when doing roof repairs on an historic building,” explained Patrick Devers, managing partner at Gundaker Construction and Restoration Group. “I would expect multiple roofing professionals who specialize in the historical roofing aspect to collaborate on these repairs, most notably to assess the various aspects. Also, I am sure an architect and or historical preservation group who has worked on similar projects or used similar materials will be involved to make additional recommendations and oversee the project.”
On Tuesday, Andersen was supported from the public gallery by his sister, Charmaine. According to the defense attorney, Aurindam Majumdar, she is extremely worried about her brother’s well-being. However, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle remanded Anderson to custody until Wednesday to allow him to speak to the court’s in-house psychiatrist. The judge also stated that consent had to be sought from the Attorney General in order to bring the charge of trespassing on a protected sight.
Anderson became visibly distressed when he learned that he would remain in custody for the night. Clad in a prison-issue gray jumpsuit, he reportedly shouted “It’s my right to protest” as he was led to the cells. Currently, he has not entered a plea.
Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate how Anderson accessed the roof, with some speculating that he may have been part of a climate change protest that gathered outside Parliament on Saturday afternoon. The protest drew as many as 5,000 people, but it is not sure if Anderson, who works as a rickshaw driver in the West End and recently returned from a month-long journey through Spain and Morocco, was one of them.