In a crime that disgusted Scarborough, drunk Kevin Johnson stole a World War One Remembrance flag before boasting on Facebook that “it looks mint on my wall”.
But the 48-year-old’s shameful status sickened his Facebook friends, with the post shared hundreds of times as users labelled him a “tool”.
The viral post brought police to his Westwood front door, yet he still attempted to hide the flag - despite posting a picture of it online on his wall.
Unsuprisingly police retrieved the Armed Forces Day flag, and arrested Johnson and his girlfriend Katie Louth.
She pleaded guilty earlier this month, and told Scarborough magistrates she would happily testify against Johnson if needed after he denied the charge - before leaving her alone in court while he popped down the pub.
But on Monday, Johnson admitted the June 26 theft, when he also uploaded the picture with the caption: “So proud of our boys from Scarborough who died like men but was (sic) boys. RIP. Looks mint on my wall.”
When Louth was convicted, Scarborough magistrates heard that she used a lighter to burn the hinges off the flag in St Nicholas Gardens before Johnson stuffed it in his bag after a seafront bender.
Louth, 25, of Grosvenor Road, was given a suspended jail sentence for a crime she claimed had “been blown out of all proportion”.
Johnson claimed the £60 flag - depicting soldiers along with the line ‘Never to be forgotten’ - had been stolen by her only and he just put it up.
But as the flag was returned both were charged, and at York Crown Court heard Johnson had previous convictions for theft and criminal damage.
For him to regard it as a trophy is sickeningJohn Anderson - Royal British Legion
Defence barrister Rob Stephenson said the vast majority of the father-of-one’s convictions were from the 1980s.
But Judge Stephen Ashurst told Johnson: “Armed Forces Day is a very special occasion in Scarborough for people to show their respect for those past and present from the armed services, many of whom lost their lives.
“What you did was not only selfish and unlawful, but you were inconsiderate and disrespectful to those who the flag was there to commemorate.
“The fact that you had been drinking is no excuse and it almost beggars belief that you posted on Facebook an image of what you had done.”
Johnson was given the same sentence as Louth - a four-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months, with 180 hours’ unpaid work. He was also made to pay a £900 court charge.
Prior to his court date, Johnson said he would regret his actions for the rest of his life - adding he’d plead guilty as he was “bang to rights”.
But when it came to entering a plea, he denied everything - with Louth claiming he had dropped her in it.
Now he’s been convicted, event organisers, military veterans and even his girlfriend have slammed a man they claim is nothing more than a “coward”.
“His actions were absolutely disgusting,” said John Anderson, from Scarborough’s British Legion.
A member of the Armed Forces Weekend steering group, he discovered the theft on the Saturday morning prior to the crowds arriving.
“I was sickened by it, and for him to regard it as a trophy - just don’t get me started on that, as it sums up this small percentage of society who don’t have any respect.”
Mr Anderson helps to organise the festival alongside others including John Senior, who started the Heroes Welcome.
“Armed Forces Day is about honouring courage and bravery, like those in the flag who fought in World War One,” he said.
“What he did that day - and with his girlfriend - is the total opposite.”
In an interview we’ve been unable to print until now due to legal reasons, Johnson said he has family in the army - and hadn’t realised it was Armed Forces Weekend.
“I was just stupid - anybody who knows me knows I would never do anything like this deliberately, it’s just not me, they know I’m just a nutter.
“It was a red hot day and I had been drinking - I couldn’t even have seen the woods for the trees.
“I have friends and family based in Cyprus at the moment and they know better of me to think I would ever disrespect them or my country.
“I was proud as punch when I took the picture but now I’ve sobered up I just wish it had never happened, not in a million years.
“I got a lot of abuse for it on Facebook, but I’m back on it now - but I’ll think twice about going on after a drink.”
He also handed over a letter of apology to Scarborough, which he signed off by saying “with big regret, Kevin Johnson”.
But after leaving her to face magistrates alone, his girlfriend was less than impressed - using an unprintable slur to sum up his actions.
The flag’s owners Scarborough Council declined to comment.