Charges over lead theft

A MAN has been banned from entering North Yorkshire after being accused of stealing lead from the roof of a Knaresborough church.

Peter John Jones, 38, from Wardlow Road, Birmingham, appeared before Harrogate magistrates last Thursday to face two charges.

He is accused of stealing lead from St John’s Church, in Church Lane, Knaresborough, on December 15 and going equipped for theft by having possession of bolt croppers, crow bars and trolleys. When Jones entered not guilty pleas to each charge, prosecutor Caroline Midgley said police had been alerted at 4.10am when a member of the public heard suspicious noises and movements around the church.

Officers had reached the scene to find Jones walking away from a large pile of lead and a set of ladders which were lying on the ground near the entrance. The implements which were the subject of the second charge had been found in a van which Jones had hired.

Mrs Midgley said church officials had estimated that the amount of lead removed from the church would cost £3,000 to replace.

Jones, who was not legally represented – solicitors had written to the court on his behalf seeking an adjournment while they applied for legal aid – said he wanted the case dealt with by magistrates and not sent to a crown court judge.

Mrs Midgley said the Crown was content that the court’s powers – a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison – were sufficient.

Presiding magistrate Elizabeth Hesp agreed to summary trial and told Jones that instead of fixing a date for the case to be heard, proceedings would be adjourned to allow time for him to be legally represented.

He was granted bail on condition he did not enter North Yorkshire until he next came to court, unless he was seeing a lawyer by prior appointment.