The Christmas tree in London's Trafalgar Square was attacked with a chain saw early today, hours before the 100-foot Norwegian fir was to be the centerpiece of a huge New Year's party on the square.
The attacker was arrested and jailed. He told police the attack on the tree, a gift from Norway, was a protest of Norway's legal system.
Tree surgeons announced they had managed to save the tree. They lifted the fir by crane and trimmed damaged parts of the trunk, police said, then restored it to its usual position.
Magistrates at London's Bow Street court jailed Patrick Harwood-Duffy, 36, of Brixton, south London, for four months after he admitted causing criminal damage estimated at $6,100 to the tree.
Harwood-Duffy told police he was protesting against the "unfairness" of Norway's legal system, where he served a jail term for heroin smuggling.
His lawyer, John Hardy, said Harwood-Duffy was frustrated by the long delay before his case was heard. He had been released in August after 11 months in solitary confinement, Hardy said.
Scotland Yard said Harwood-Duffy jumped over barriers around the tree early today and managed to saw a good way through the trunk. Police at first thought it might have to be scrapped.
The tree, which stands in the square through Christmas and New Year's, was under police guard today in advance of the raucous street party traditionally staged in Trafalgar Square on New Year's Eve.
A tree is shipped annually from Norway as a gift to the British people for their efforts in World War II to defeat the Germans, who had invaded and occupied Norway.