Two friends who stole a $64,000 statue from this year's Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Cottesloe beach in a moment of "drunken madness" have been sentenced to 100 hours of community work.

Scott Jonathan Hoar, 24, and Nicholas David Neuwen, 22, pleaded guilty to stealing the striking red statue called Childhood Morning by renowned artist Chen Wenling at around 3am on March 16.

They snapped the statue off at the legs, moved Hoar's car closer, carried the 70kg statue up the stairs and then took it to Hoar's Marmion home, where they hid it in the roof above the garage before police confronted Hoar later that same day. Neuwen handed himself in to police later.

Neuwen's lawyer Jeremy Noble said his client, who had been partying and then fishing with his friend, was so drunk the following morning it was like a scene from the movie, The Hangover, as Neuwen became more and more mortified when he pieced together the "nightmare" of the night before.

The District Court was told today that both men have agreed to pay $15,000 each in compensation to artist.

The event organisers have also reimbursed the artist $35,000.

The court was also told the organisers and the artist did not want to see the young men jailed and were impressed with their contrition.

Defence lawyers say both men are ashamed and remorseful of their actions, which Judge Anette Schoombee accepted as genuine.

Judge Schoombee also accepted the men did not mean to harm anybody, did not intend to damage the statue or steal the artwork for financial gain, but described the crime as a silly drunken prank and a "serious lapse in judgement".

Hoar's lawyer Simon Freitag said to describe this as an example of poor decision-making undersold just how dumb this behaviour was.

Nicholas David Neuwen outside court today. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

"It was a silly decision made by two young men really on the spur of the moment," he said.

The court was told both men wanted to return the statue but were not sure who to contact.

He said Hoar, a carpenter, had lost his job with mining giant Rio Tinto because of his offending.
Neuwen's lawyer Jeremy Noble said the offending was extremely out of character for his client, a fly-in fly-out trades assistant.

"It was an act of absolute stupidity that he shouldn't be marked with for the rest of his life," he said.

He said the men's motive was hard to discern because of the intoxication involved.

Four security guards were supposed to be patrolling the beach at the time the statue was stolen, the court heard.

The prosecution said both men had apologised to the organisers and artist and suggested they could do volunteer work at next year's exhibition.

Scott Jonathan Hoar outside court today. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Judge Schoombee said the men's selfish actions, which would have required considerable effort, had caused anger, disappointment, anguish, irritation and financial loss.

She said not only were the organisers and the artists victims to this offence, but the art-loving community was as well. The judge accepted both men were of previous good character.

However, she rejected an application to grant both men spent convictions, saying the offence was too serious.

She ordered that Hoar and Neuwen must do at least 12 hours a week in community work.

Hoar and Neuwen, who were both supported by their parents in court, refused to comment outside court.

The West Australian

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