A ROYAL Marine who stole almost £20,000 of instruments from the famous navy band and sold them on eBay has been jailed for six months and booted from the military.
Disgraced Marine Adrian Higginson had been a member of the Royal Marines Band Service for 10 years, but had run up debts of almost £15,000.
The 29-year-old, of Portsmouth, began stealing the instruments from the store cupboard, selling them online through auction site eBay.
But he was caught out when a sergeant based in Plymouth spotted instruments being sold online that could only have been acquired by someone in the military.
Portsmouth Military Court heard Higginson, who plays the euphonium and cello in the band, had started stealing the items in March 2015.
The Royal Military Police had investigated the missing instruments, but they had been unable to identify a suspect and closed the case.
But when Higginson’s eBay account was brought to their attention they re-opened their investigation and arrested him.
Prosecutor Major Neil Keery said: ‘In June last year, a colour sergeant in Plymouth noticed a number of items on eBay. These were being sold under the name AdrianHigginson11.
‘The colour sergeant knew that band items had gone missing and the military police had investigated this, but no suspect was identified.
‘It was apparent that the items being sold could only have been obtained by someone obviously in the military.
‘The items were stolen while the defendant had access to the stores they were kept in, over a period of months.’
The court heard Higginson had taken most of the instruments while the band took a summer break in August and September 2015, but had also taken items periodically.
Over the course of a year, he stole eight saxophones, two clarinets, a cornet, a horn and a focusrite amplifier from the navy and the personal trumpet of another band member.
Most of the items were sold to a person in Poland with two being recovered at Higginson’s home, the court heard.
The father-of-one admitted two counts of theft at the court martial.
Mitigating, Rob Bryan told the court his client, who wept throughout the hearing, suffered with a form of bi-polar disorder.
He said a psychiatric report showed Higginson had a form of bi-polar disorder which caused ‘great swings’ in mood.
‘The decision to steal the instruments was one of rank stupidity, which has brought him before this court,’ he said.
‘In my submission, while dishonesty often results in dismissal from the forces, it does not always have to.
‘This is a man who has showed great remorse for what he has done.’
Sentencing. Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor said: he had taken into account Higginson’s mental health woes and his debts.
‘But this debt could have been dealt with another way and not by stealing from your employer,’ he told Higginson.
‘For a musician, their instrument is effectively operational equipment and you taking this had a real effect on the band’s effectiveness.
‘Anyone who steals from their employer should expect to be dismissed and you will be dismissed.’