Two men who broke into a Suffolk floating museum and stole a rare piece of shipping equipment during a “stupid, drunken prank” have been given suspended prison sentences.

East Anglian Daily Times: The new ship's log on display aboard the Mincarlo trawler museum in Lowestoft. Picture: NICK BOYCEThe new ship's log on display aboard the Mincarlo trawler museum in Lowestoft. Picture: NICK BOYCE (Image: Archant)

Sentencing Peter Hammond and Kelvin Milton to eight month prison sentences suspended for 24 months, Judge Emma Peters described their behaviour as “nasty, mean and pathetic”.

She said the brass Walker’s ship-log stolen by the men from the Mincarlo, the last surviving sidewinder from Lowestoft’s famous shipping fleet which is now based at Heritage Quay off the town’s South Pier, as “utterly irreplaceable”.

She added that some of the floating museum’s volunteers had been reduced to tears when they saw the damage caused to the boat by the defendants and discovered the theft of the ship-log.

“I hope you both hang your heads in shame,” said Judge Peters.

Hammond, 21, of London Road South, Lowestoft and Milton, 23, of Strawberry Lane, Tiptree, admitted stealing the Walker’s ship-log and criminal damage to the Mincarlo on May 11 last year.

In addition to being given suspended prison sentences the men were each ordered to pay £1,000 compensation.

Milton was also ordered to do 240 hours unpaid work and Hammond was ordered to do 200 hours.

Phillip Farr, for Milton, accepted the offence was “mean” and said his client was “deeply ashamed” of his behaviour.

He said Milton had spent the day of the offences drinking on the beach.

Jude Durr, for Hammond, said his client apologised to the Mincarlo’s trustees, supporters and volunteers and bitterly regretted his involvement in this “stupid, drunken prank.”

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said entry was forced onto the floating museum before the bridge window door was smashed and the precious navigation instrument, which was worth £1,500 - £2,000, was taken.

Following the theft of the Walker’s ship-log former Lowestoft fisherman Bob Stockley, who was determined to preserve this important symbol of maritime history, donated a replacement log.

At the time Paul Mitchell, chairman of the Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Trust, said: “These ships’s logs are around, but the one we had was pure brass and so it was quite rare.”

“The saddest thing about ours being stolen was the sentimental value as it belonged to my late step father, who bequeathed it to one of our crew who was a good friend of his.“