A THIEF has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting stealing instruments belonging to a much loved band.

Adam Welch pleaded guilty to stealing equipment from Old Romsey Cadets in August, a theft which sparked a huge community fundraising response.

More than £1,000 was raised by locals and other organisations to replace the instruments.

As well as donations, businesses such as The Star Inn, in Romsey, put out collection boxes to generate funds.

And following the 27-year-old’s conviction, Mike Smith, from the band, said he hoped it would close the chapter on the sad incident.

He told the Romsey Advertiser: “The support of the people in the area for our organisation has been phenomenal and this crime has overshadowed it.

“It’s a sad story and we understand that some people are in difficult circumstances.

“If his sentence is what the courts deem best we are happy with that and just hope the door closes on the whole affair now.”

At Southampton Magistrates’ Court, Welch, of Fleming Avenue, North Baddesley, was sentenced to two months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

His conviction, breached a community order given to Welch last year in relation to charges of assault by beating and damaging a pink CD player.

The instruments were stolen from a storage unit in North Baddesley on August 7.

The band had used the unit to store their instruments for 25 years but when over-grown ivy was removed from climbing up the storage unit walls it damaged the roof, leaving the instruments vulnerable.