September 17, 2021 4.41 pm This story is over 32 months old

Drunken Lincoln imp vandal ordered to pay almost £5k damages

“I didn’t mean for it to break, it just literally happened”

A man who broke a statue on the Lincoln Imp Trail during drunken high jinks has picked up a court bill of £4,680 – after causing an estimated £20,000 of damage.

Stewart Tomlinson, 45, will also carry out ten rehabilitation activity requirement days with the Probation Service and undergo 90 days of alcohol abstinence monitoring.

Tomlinson, of Hainton Avenue in Grimsby, pleaded guilty on Thursday to criminal damage. Sentencing was then adjourned for preparation of a pre-sentence report.

Prosecutor Emma Lant said on Friday (September 17) that the damage happened at about half past midnight on August 29.

She described how the defendant, another male and a female were seen on CCTV walking up High Street.

When they reached the Lincoln City Football Club imp statue outside The Treaty of Commerce pub, the group posed with it before Tomlinson jumped on it.

“He was holding on to its head, which amused the group. The defendant therefore jumped on to it a second time, holding on to it with his arms and legs which caused the fibreglass to break, with the head falling off,” said Miss Lant.

“The male with the group threw the head towards the defendant and the defendant kicked it into the street.”

The Lincoln Footie Imp before the damage.

The court heard that they then left the scene but soon returned to take a photograph of the broken statue. The group then went to the Anchor pub, where Tomlinson was arrested.

Miss Lant said: “The defendant said several times that it was an accident. He jumped on it and its head fell off.

“In custody he made further comments that they were just messing around. He [said he] was ‘skull f***ing it and it just came off – it was an accident’.”

The court was shown CCTV footage of the incident. The imps trail of 30 statues was a £400,000 project by Lincoln Business Improvement Group, which helps provide business and tourism support in the city centre.

A statement by Lincoln BIG corporate manager Sharon Stone said the damage was ‘irreparable’.

She added: “This is made all the more pertinent when the reality of the work that goes into each one of these artistic structures is delved into. Each imp has its own identity and is an expression of an idea, location or piece of history.”

Mrs Stone put the overall costs of the damage at £20,000 – including a possible £5,000 to St Barnabas Hospice when the imp would have been auctioned off when the trail closed.

“This is particularly upsetting when you think the perpetrator of this mindless act has potentially just deprived St Barnabas of £5,000 for no justifiable reason,” she added.

Tomlinson, who had previous convictions for bring drunk and disorderly, damage and assault, apologised to the court for the damage to the imp and said it had not been intentional.

“I didn’t mean for it to break, it just literally happened,” he added.

He was ordered to pay £4,500 compensation, £95 victim surcharge and £85 costs.