Julie Lake has been convicted of assaulting the boy near a remembrance cross last year
The daughter of a Second World War RAF pilot who reprimanded a teenager who she accused of vandalising a war memorial has been convicted of assault.
Julie Lake, 50, believed the 15-year-old was one of a number of youths who had damaged the remembrance garden in her village dedicated to those killed fighting for Britain.
But Mrs Lake was arrested after giving a boy, whom she believed to be the ringleader, a talking-to and a 'cuff round the ear'.
She tackled him after she saw at least one youth riding a BMX bike through freshly-laid flower beds.
Magistrates heard that when she grabbed his shirt collar, he said: 'That's assault'.
Mrs Lake claimed she was performing a 'moral obligation' following months of anti-social behaviour and vandalism at the memorial.
But weeks later she was arrested and yesterday was convicted of assault, criminal damage and a public order offence at North Avon Magistrates Court in Yate, near Bristol.
She was cleared of punching a 14-year-old in the stomach during the fracas.
Sentencing Mrs Lake to a 12-month conditional discharge, District judge David Parsons said she had shown a 'complete lack of self-control'.
She was found guilty of criminal damage for angrily throwing a bicycle belonging to one of the youths into the road, and shouting: 'Now you know what it feels like to have your property damaged'.
The judge rejected her claim the she was trying to perform a citizen's arrest and ordered her to pay £400 towards costs.
He said: 'I'm sure that having seen the damage to the flower beds, you simply lost your temper.
'I can understand you lost it, particularly because of your family relations in the war, and it is hardly surprising that you did.
'You reacted spontaneously, without thought for the consequences.
'You confronted the child with no plan in mind. The throwing of a bike into the road shows a complete loss of self-control, not the actions of someone executing a citizen's arrest.'
Before her arrest, Mrs Lake said she had become frustrated by youths vandalising the garden in Mangotsfield, Bristol.
She said: 'The memorial is a sacred place - it's like a grave. How dare these youngsters tarnish the memories of those who made a sacrifice for future generations?
'I've called the police and I've tried to talk to these kids but I've got nowhere.
'I lost my temper in frustration after two years of trying to get something done and immediately the police are after me. It's ridiculous.'
Mrs Lake's grandfather James Byrne was an infantryman who was killed, aged 29, in the Western Front trenches of France during the First World War .
Her father William Byrne was an RAF pilot in World War II, and Julie's husband Peter, 63, a retired airman, also lost his grandfather in the 1914-18 war.
The trial - estimated to have cost taxpayers more than £100,000 - earlier heard how Mrs Lake was surrounded by up to 25 jeering youths by the memorial at the end of last year.
She told how the gang surrounded her, pushed her and shouted: 'You can't touch us, we're 15, we can do what the f*** we like.'
When the 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was questioned in court about the war memorial, he replied: ''It means nothing to me, I guess it's for some people who died in the war.'
Mrs Lake said after the hearing: 'I did this for millions of men and women like my grandfather, for whom a war memorial is the only grave they have.
'I did what I did because I believe it was my moral obligation to stand up for those men and women following years of vandalism at the memorial.
'I would like to say thanks for all the support I've received over the past few months which has meant so much to me.'
Lawyer Nick Freeman - known as Mr Loophole after he successfully had a number of celebrities cleared of driving offences - defended Mrs Lake for free following a massive public outcry when she was arrested after the incident.
Speaking outside court, he said: 'The authorities have been inundated with complaints from local residents and it is perverse and ironic that the only person arrested, charged and convicted is the one person who has tended the memorial over this period.
'This is consistent with a small minority of youths who are lawless and have no respect for others, for authority or for property.
'I don't feel that common sense has prevailed and that the protagonists who are responsible for the damage have yet to be questioned about their conduct.'
Members of the Royal British Region were in court to support married Mrs Lake during the four-day trial.
Former serviceman Reg Hall, 78, said: 'It's disgusting that the vandalism has been going on at the memorial for eight years and nobody has stopped it.
'Julie is a hero for trying to take a stand. We are all proud of her.'