A young mum has admitted to stealing a World War One flag over Armed Forces weekend in a crime that outraged Scarborough.
Katie Louth wept uncontrollably as magistrates warned her she could be jailed after swiping the flag, which honoured those who perished in the war.
After downing eight cans of Stella Artois, the 25-year-old burned the hinges off the sombre flag – which read “Never to be Forgotten”.
But after a volunteer discovered the theft, police eventually tracked her down and brought her to justice.
The mum-of-two told The Scarborough News prior to her sentencing she felt the offence “had been blown out of all proportion”.
But Louth, of Grosvenor Road, pleaded guilty to the theft – which her solicitor said had turned her into a hate figure in town.
“It’s not surprising people are disgusted,” said Robert Vining in mitigation.
“Armed Forces Weekend is a weekend in which we all doff our caps to those who have served our country.
“But she is absolutely distraught to find herself in court, and she feels that when she’s out and about in Scarborough people know that she’s involved.
“But it was never her intention to keep it and she wishes she could turn back time.”
The £50 custom-made flag had been hung up in St Nicholas Gardens ahead of the event, in which thousands of people descended on to the seafront to watch aerial displays and pay tribute to the borough’s fallen troops.
The theft on June 26 left a black cloud over the start of the festivities, and co-organiser John Senior said he was happy Louth owned up to her mistake.
He added: “My view is that it’s mischievous behaviour and it’s thoughtless – but we all do stupid things when we are drunk.”
The probation service also told the court that besides her drinking, she had also suffered from a number of personal traumas, including depression.
But despite hearing the crime “caused a great deal of upset”, magistrates suspended her four-week jail sentence for a year.
Louth will also have to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £345 in costs.