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Pair of would-be church lead thieves avoid jail sentences

PUBLISHED: 16:51 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 18 September 2018

Starston Church. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Starston Church. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2016

A pair of men who tried to steal lead from churches in two Norfolk villages have got off without jail time.

St Nicholas Church in Wells. Picture: Sam RobbinsSt Nicholas Church in Wells. Picture: Sam Robbins

Ben Beavis, 27, of Church Road in Romford and George Lindsay, 24, of Cleves Avenue in Brentwood both admitted their parts in attempted raids on churches in Wells-next-the-Sea and Starston, near Harleston.

Beavis was sentenced at Norwich Magistrates Court on Tuesday to drug driving and going equipped for theft in connection with the Wells incident, which happened on December 8.

Police were called to St Nicholas Church just after 4am after a security alarm went off, and found a van with an engine running outside.

Both the driver and passenger were spoken to and searched resulting in tools, such as cutting equipment, being found.

The pair were arrested, and police then heard about a second attempted lead theft that happened midnight the same morning.

A glove and Stanley knife found at the church in Starston were forensically examined and DNA matched Lindsay.

Both men were later charged with offences relating to both incidents.

Beavis was fined £540 for the going equipped offence and ordered to pay costs of £160 and £54 victim surcharge.

He was fined a further £600 for the drug driving offence, banned from driving for three years and ordered to pay costs of £85 with £60 victim surcharge.

Lindsay, who was dealt with in May, pleaded guilty to going equipped for theft and attempted theft at both churches and possession of cannabis.

He was sentenced to a 12-month community order to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £85 and costs of £45.

Superintendent Chris Harvey, North Norfolk and Broadland policing commander, said the Wells church’s alarm made a crucial difference in catching the pair. He said: “Rural crime causes financial loss and disrupts local communities and crime prevention measures such as alarms are key in tackling such crime.

“The alarm enabled a rapid response allowing officers to arrest the offenders at the scene.

“This prevented further offences and sends a clear message that we are able to use technology to protect rural locations.”

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