May 18, 2022 11.43 am This story is over 24 months old

Inside the Force: Lincoln Imp vandal pleads innocence for “skull-f******” sculpture”

He called it an accident and had some choice words for officers

By Local Democracy Reporter

The latest episode of Inside the Force 24/7, Channel 5’s documentary series about Lincolnshire Police, looked at an incident from last summer where a vandal destroyed one of the Lincoln Imp Trail sculptures.

The episode, which aired on Monday, May 16 on Channel 5, explored another weekend of drunken antics in Lincoln city centre, as cameras followed Lincolnshire Police around to show the difficulties of their jobs at times.

One particular incident at the end of the episode dates back to August 2021, when the Lincoln Imp Trail was in full swing. 30 imp sculptures designed by local and national artists alike were placed across the city for people to explore and find.

The Lincoln City imp on the lower High Street was vandalised.

The trail was a charity effort to raise money for St Barnabas Hospice, but that didn’t stop this man on Inside the Force, as police in Lincoln are made aware of vandalism to one of the sculptures on the High Street.

An officer is called to The Anchor pub on Lincoln High Street after a call from the public of “two lads and a young girl” ripping the head off an imp sculpture from the trail of statues through the city.

The incident was caught on CCTV, so the culprits were identified quickly. Backup arrived and an arrest was made, as footage showed just one man had caused the damage.

The man was arrested inside The Anchor pub on Lincoln High Street. | Photo: Channel 5

That man was reported at the time as 45-year-old Stewart Tomlinson from Grimsby, though reference is not made to his identity in the programme. He was charged with criminal damage and given a court bill of almost £5,000.

He was arrested by the pool table and escorted out the pub, but he pleads his innocence. The man repeatedly said it was an accident, adding: “I was messing about, had a few drinks and it came off.”

A hostile argument began as they walked outside. | Photo: Channel 5

As officers tried to guide him into a police van, he became more hostile as he continues to speak. Eventually an officer loses his temper and shouts at him to be quiet, which helps get him in the van.

Upon arrival at the station, the man has a few choice words for the officer, before explaining what happened with the sculpture while he was signing in at custody.

He called it an accident when spoke to in custody. | Photo: Channel 5

“It was a practical joke that went wrong,” he said. “At the end of the day, I was skull-f****** the mascot and fell over, job done.”

He does ask for a doctor to check what he thought was broken ribs, brought on by a fall he had jumping onto the sculpture, as the CCTV footage showed at the end of the episode.

He got up onto the sculpture, which he says he was “skull-f******” before falling on the ground. | Photo: Channel 5

The CCTV captures the moment Tomlinson mounts the sculpture, quickly falling and landing on the concrete on his back as the head of the imp comes off.

In a very amusing moment, two officers gather in the Parade Room of the South Park station to discuss the bizarre claims of the suspect. They joke that he claims to have done nothing wrong “because he didn’t mean it”, to which one responds “oh shall we let him go then?”

The damaged top half of the imp was brought back to the station. | Photo: Channel 5

You can catch up with all the episodes of Inside the Force 24/7 on Channel 5’s On Demand service, my5.