Drunken pair attack priest in city church

| September 26, 2010

Father Piotr Koczorowski feared the situation would escalate after he came across two men in the sanctuary of St Mary’s Church on Wednesday evening.

He reacted instinctively when he was alerted by the alarm going off in the sanctuary, locking the door to keep them inside.

But the men jumped on him and punched him on the neck before escaping.

Father Koczorowski, who has been a priest at the church on Huntly Street for a year, admitted he was scared and conceded he should not have tried to tackle the situation himself, but admitted he probably would if it happened again.

“I went down and saw them running across the sanctuary — they were trying to hide behind the alter,” he explained.

“I decided to lock the church. I just thought I would keep them there to phone the police. If they escaped, I wouldn’t know who they were.”

He thinks the men, who he described as completely drunk, were trying to steal, as two wireless microphones had been moved, although nothing was eventually taken.

On two occasions earlier this month, the noticeboard containing Polish announcements outside the church was set on fire, but police say this incident is not thought to be linked.

“There was one moment, I was scared,” said the 35-year-old priest.

“When they realised I was going to lock them in the church, they started to run towards me.

“One of them kicked an internal door — it looked scary.

“And when one hit me, I was afraid it might turn into a serious fight, but they were just trying to escape from the church, they didn’t mean to cause me any harm.

“I wasn’t the target, just the obstacle. I struggled for a while, but they managed to escape.”

The priest admitted he was silly in tackling the men but said he was his first reaction.

“I shouldn’t have done it, if they were more aggressive, I would have been harmed.”

He suffered soreness to the neck and was taken to Raigmore Hospital, but later discharged.

“I was out of breath for a while, but it wasn’t anything,” he said. “I was just shocked.”

Police are now appealing to the public for information about the incident, which happened around 6.30pm.

“This was a cowardly and shameful act and we would appeal to anyone who may have seen people running or leaving the area of St Mary’s Church to come forward,” said Detective Inspector John Patience.

Both men were aged between 20 and 30 years.

The first is described as being 6ft, of thin build, with a pale face and ginger hair.

He was wearing a tracksuit with white bottoms and a brown top. The second man is described as 5ft 10in, of thin build, with short dark hair, blue eyes and was clean shaven.

He was wearing a flat ring on his pinkie, blue jeans, a white t-shirt with black faded writing and a blue waterproof jacket.

It is understood the CCTV on Huntly Street was being repaired at the time of the incidentAccording to priest, checking with police.

Anyone with information is urged to contact police on 0845 555 111 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.



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