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Drunk friends stole sea cadets boat and caused £10,000 worth of damage in prank

Connor Nolan, 23 (left) and Andrew McGarvie, 25 (right) outside North Tyneside Magistrates Court Credit: NCJ Media Syndication

Two friends found themselves in hot water after they got drunk, stole a boat belonging to a sea cadets charity and caused £10,000 worth of damage to it.

Emergency services had to be called after Connor Nolan and Andrew McGarvie took the vessel "as a prank" from Derwenthaugh Marina in Gateshead on March 11 last year.

A security guard at Newcastle Business Park saw the boat on the river with smoke billowing out from it at around 6.30am that morning and called 999.

Police officers and firefighters made their way to the scene and managed to stop the vessel between the Tyne Bridge and Millennium Bridge, near the Newcastle City Marina. Both men were then arrested.

It was found the boat was badly damaged and the sea cadets charity suffered significant financial loss.

Andrew McGarvie Credit: NCJ Media Syndication

At North Tyneside Magistrates' Court, Nolan, 23, of Isabella Close, Elswick, pleaded guilty to taking the boat without consent, while McGarvie, 25, also of Isabella Close, Elswick, admitted to being on the vessel without consent.

In a statement, the charity told the court the incident had a huge impact on the sea cadets and the children had not been able to participate in full activities with the group.

Prosecutor Ami Dodd also said that, while the organisation had public liability insurance to cover their activities, it did not cover them for theft matters. As a result, the charity's budget was severely affected.

Connor Nolan Credit: NCJ Media Syndication

The defendants told a probation officer they had been drinking into the early hours that day and went to get more alcohol.

As they were crossing a bridge, they saw boats moored by the jetty and used a fire extinguisher to break the lock on the sea cadets vessel.

Michael Gibson, representing McGarvie, said the incident had started off as a prank and was not planned.

He realises what he did was wrong. It was out of character."

– Michael Gibson, representing McGarvie

Jack Lovell, for Nolan, said:

He did not intend to cause any damage. It was a very stupid thing to do. It was not planned."

– Jack Lovell, representing Nolan

The court ordered the defendants to pay £4,000 each in compensation to the charity and they were given a three-month curfew, to run between 8pm and 6am each day.