Tuesday, 30 June 2020 03:52

Thief admits trying to take £30,000 of lead from Devizes church roof Featured

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A thief admitted trying to steal thousands of pounds-worth of lead from a church roof.

Jason Wynter was one of two men caught red-handed by police after the parish priest at St James in Devizes, and the church’s lay worship leader heard the pair on the roof of the Grade II*-listed church.

Appearing before Swindon Crown Court via video link from HMP Bristol, the 49-year-old, of Bemerton Heath, Salisbury, pleaded guilty to theft of lead worth more than £30,000 on September 28 last year and taking a T-registration Proton Duo hatchback without the consent of its owner.

He admitted allegations he assaulted a police officer in Trowbridge on June 9 last year, in Salisbury on September 29, and at Bath hospital on March 7, 2020, and charges of disorderly behaviour including one count of that was racially aggravated. He was subject to a community order for attacking police when the assaults were committed.

The man has already pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court in May to two charges of assaulting police officers after he bit one constable and spat at another while he was being arrested in Melksham.

Judge Jason Taylor QC adjourned sentence to Thursday, July 2, telling Wynter: “I genuinely understand that you want to learn your fate.

“I have got to take a step back and look at them in the round. I’m going to call it on on Thursday. I can’t see any reason I can’t sentence you on Thursday. You know it’s going to be prison.”

Last year, the arrest of Wynter and accomplice, who was not named in court, made the pages of the national press.

Vicar Keith Brindle, who had been holding an all-night vigil at St James to pray for those affected by knife crime, suggested the power of prayer may have had a hand in the apprehension of the thieves.

He told the Gazette & Herald: “For the first time in the three and a half years I have been here it was the only time an all-night vigil had happened at the church, we decided only a few hours before to move the vigil to the church and Kirsty Wilmott who heard them arrived early as she could not sleep.

“Prayer – what a mysterious and wonderful thing it is.”

Mrs Wilmott, who is the church’s lay worship leader, should not have arrived until 3am but she arrived half an hour early and almost immediately heard a strange banging noise. “We have had problems with lead theft before and straightaway that was on my mind.

"Then I saw these legs behind the stained glass window and I guessed what was happening,” she said.

The vicar rang 999 and police arrived within minutes.

Lead from the church roof had been rolled up ready to be taken away. One roll of lead had already been stashed in the Proton Duo getaway car.

Read this article on the Gazette and Herald here...

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