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The State Rail Authority has refused a religious group permission to continue painting a mural in the Devonshire Street tunnel, although a magistrate on Tuesday described the work as an improvement to a disgraceful area.

The Paddington-based group already has painted a 20 metre x 2 metre urban scene alongside grafiti on the tunnel walls.

SRA patrolmen arrested five of the 12-member group while they painted the mural between Christmas and New Year's Day.

In the past week, magistrates have dismissed charges of wilful damage against three of the painters.

In Castlereagh Street Court on Tuesday, Mr A. Reidel, SM, dismissed a charge agaisnt the group's leader, Mr David McKay, because of extenuating circumstances.

Mr Riedel described teh condition of the railway tunnel as "disgraceful for some considerable time" and said Mr McKay's painting may be considered by some as an improvement.

However, he warned that others should not be encouraged to paint on public property.

On January 3 a magistrate in Newtown Court also dismissed wilful damage charges against Mr McKay's son, Kevin, and another group member, Mr Robin Dunn.

A spokesman for the SRA, Mr Pat Preodergast, said yesterday the mural was a "waste of paint" as the authority would soon be upgrading the 600-metre tunnel under Central Railway Station.  Plans would go on show in a few weeks.
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