A shamanic Afghanistan veteran who stole a yacht from an Angus harbour and went sailing in it with his partner to “show it some love” has been sentenced to unpaid work for the bizarre theft.
Richard Gould and Vivienne Duke sparked a land and sea operation to recover the £15,000 Osprey after going for a nautical joyride in the vessel last September.
They were tracked to Lunan Bay before officers from Police Scotland’s specialist marine unit boarded the 27-foot craft and took the couple into back to the boat’s home port of Arbroath.
Both were charged with theft of the yacht, but midway through a Forfar Sheriff Court trial on Monday, Gould, 42, changed his plea to guilty and a not guilty plea offered by Duke, 52, was accepted by the Crown.
Osprey’s owner, Fife man Michael Gray, had earlier told depute fiscal Laura McGillvery how he logged on to an Arbroath seafront webcam on September 22 and noticed it missing from its berth in the marina.
“I went to the harbourmaster to see if he had moved it. He was surprised it wasn’t there,” said the 60-year-old in evidence.
Gould’s solicitor Billy Rennie said his client regarded the offence as essentially “temporary deprivation” of the yacht.
“He is on a journey with Miss Duke, travelling by foot and they spent two years effectively under the skies,” he said.
“On that date and due to recent bad weather they entered the harbour and stayed on board overnight.
“In the morning they spent three or four hours cleaning it and doing small jobs. They were both of the belief it hadn’t been used for a while and the next essential part is that they want to show it some love and take it out on the seas.”
Mr Rennie added: “In a way it’s joyriding, but instead of taking and driving away a vehicle it’s on the sea.
“He was in the armed forces in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq and this is something of an alternative lifestyle to that he experienced before.”
The court was earlier told the couple were following a shamanic existence, an ancient spiritual practice of transcendental energy.
Sheriff Gregor Murray told Gould: “Your intention was to return it after you had showed it a bit of love.
“Nonetheless, it is theft of a yacht with a substantial value. It also involved a substantial police operation and a substantial amount of time to get the yacht back.
“The options are limited but I will order you to carry out the maximum number of unpaid hours I can without requiring a background report, given the amount of time and effort that’s already gone into your case.”
Gould, of Newton Avenue, Arbroath, must complete 100 hours of unpaid work in six months.