Church on lockdown after “despicable” theft

| August 5, 2010

AN Amblecote church is closing its doors to the public after a “despicable” theft of sacred items from the altar.

Thieves made off with two historic brass crucifixes and a mayoral chain from Holy Trinity Church in the High Street, leaving parishioners stunned.

One of the offenders – Scott Pooler – was soon caught and admitted the theft, after he was identified on CCTV footage taken from the crime scene.

But the raid – which Dudley magistrate Susan Ridley described as “disgusting and despicable” – has now led to the Reverend Alan Williams taking the decision to close the church doors to members of the public.

He told the News: "My one big regret in all of this is that their actions have led to many of the community being deprived of the opportunity to go into church.

"The church is there to serve everybody in the local community, but some people don’t care enough about places of worship.”

Offender Scott Pooler, aged 34, from Gibbs Road, Lye, carried out the raid just three days after his release on licence from prison.

At Dudley Magistrates Court last Friday (July 30) he was given a six-month jail term to run concurrently with a four-year sentence he is already serving for burglary.

The court heard the stolen chain – which belonged to the old Amblecote Urban District Council – was later recovered from a drain.

However the crucifixes, which were over 100 years old, had been sold for just £17. They were later recovered from a scrap dealer – but were in pieces.

Prosecutor Mark Cooper said: “This was a particularly low and despicable theft, the monetary value could not replace the crucifixes.”

Sunil Jagatia, defending, said Pooler accepted he had a lengthy criminal record and was on licence from Blakenhurst Prison when he raided the church on Sunday July 18.

Mr Jagatia said: “He found it difficult to settle in to normal life outside prison and went back to using heroin, he takes full responsibility for his actions.”

A 25-year-old woman has also been arrested in connection with the incident and remains on police bail pending further enquires.

Father Williams said the mayoral chain would now be stored at Dudley archives, and the church will only be open when he is carrying out his official duties on site.

He also warned offenders tempted to steal from other churches in the area not to do “anything to anybody that you would not want done to yourself”.

 

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