The 20-year-old man who beheaded one of the sculptures on the Lincoln Imp Trail in an act of drunken foolery has apologised, and been ordered to pay more than £2,000 for the damages in court.
Bradley Pennell, 20, of Ogilvy Drive in Bottesford, Scunthorpe, was charged with criminal damage on July 21, when the Community Imp on Guildhall Street in Lincoln was found broken in two in the early hours of the morning.
He appeared remorseful at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning as he entered a guilty plea.
The court heard how Pennell had penned hand-written letters to the nine-year-old schoolgirl who designed the imp, as well as the artist who painted it, apologising for his behaviour.
He is an avid go-kart driver, winning British championships, and cited worries that the incident may affect sponsorships and his future career.
Bradley had been on a night out in Lincoln with his friends on Tuesday, July 20 when they were spotted on CCTV at Guildhall Street at around 3.40am on Wednesday morning.
The court heard Pennell’s friend took his phone out and began to film him as he jumped on the platform where the sculpture stands, before rocking it back and forth and shaking the imp until it came apart.
The Community Imp, designed by freelance artist Sian Bristow and a local primary school girl, had been made to celebrate key workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Police tracked the movements of Pennell on CCTV back to his hotel room, where he was arrested by officers shortly after the incident.
The damage costs have been estimated at around £4,500, without considering the funds that could be raised for St Barnabas Hospice when the imp goes to auction on Lincolnshire Day, October 1, at the end of the imp trail.
Mark McNeil, in mitigation, described Bradley as a “responsible and sensible” person with no previous convictions, who acted out of character while “heavily under the influence” of alcohol.
“This incident has not been taken lightly, one drunken act shouldn’t reflect the character of this man”, Mr McNeil told the court.
Pennell was ordered to pay compensation of £2,250 for the damage to the imp, and was given a conditional discharge after an early guilty plea. There will be no surcharge or court costs as part of the sentencing.
Sarah Loftus, chief executive of Lincoln BIG, organisers of the imp trail, told The Lincolnite: “I am pleased this individual has been held to account and we look forward to getting the imp repaired and put back out on the trail for people to enjoy.”
Cllr Neil Murray, portfolio holder for economic growth at City of Lincoln Council, said of the verdict: “Following the initial upset and disappointment at the damage, we are pleased this matter has been dealt with swiftly and the city will not be out of pocket by this act of vandalism.
“We hope this remains a one-off incident so everyone can enjoy the trail as it was intended and continue to support arts and culture events throughout the city.”