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Thief broke into Tattenhall church and drank holy wine

Published date: 09 April 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A THIEF has been jailed after he forced his way into a church near Chester, drank the communion wine and vandalised a door before fleeing with electrical goods.

James Stocks ransacked St Alban’s Parish Church in Tattenhall after he and an acquaintance hatched a plan to “go on the rob”, Chester Crown Court heard yesterday.

Stocks, 22, used a crowbar to force open the church door before drinking the altar wine and kicking open the bell tower door and afterwards escaping with a laptop and printer on March 22.

Church rector the Rev Lameck Mutete arrived at the church early the next day and discovered the wrecking spree.

Stocks, of Churchbank, Tattenhall, was later caught after palm and footprints linked him to the scene, Jayne Morris, prosecuting said.

A police search also uncovered the stolen laptop in the loft of Stock’s home.

Miss Morris said: “When the reverend arrived at the church he found the door open and significant damage to the bell tower door, which appeared to have been
kicked in.”

There was also a broken bottle of wine on the floor and another bottle of altar wine
After his arrest Stocks said it was his acquaintance’s idea to carry out the burglary, but said he was sorry for his actions. He confessed to having issues with alcohol and said he wanted to deal with his issues.

Stocks, a self employed builder and joiner, pleaded guilty to burglary, and to breaching a suspended sentence order which was imposed on him just three days before the church offence, by magistrates in Chester.

Peter Barnett, defending, said Stocks had experienced a troubled past and suffered with depression

“He also has a significant drink problem, that and a lack of maturity is at the root of his offending,” said Mr Barnett.

Jailing Stocks for 12 months for the burglary, and to 120 days for breaching his suspended sentence order, Judge Roger Dutton told him: “The fact this offence involved a church strikes particular resonance with me. It is an aggravating factor.

“It is important when you are released from prison, given the temptations there will be around alcohol, that you take measures to ensure you have the strength to deal with your alcohol issues.”

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