Lichfield Diocese welcomes jail sentence for church lead thiefs

The Diocese of Lichfield has welcomed the sentencing of three men found guilty of stealing lead from the roof of Stoke Minster.

Nikoladus Janouicius, 23, Mykolas Serdiucenko,18, and Spartacus Grachauskas, 23, all from the Crewe area, were each sentenced to eight months in prison at Stoke Crown Court last Friday.

Judge Paul Glenn described the offence as “particularly mean”, telling the men: “You all knew it was a place of worship and a focal point for the community and you targeted it.”

They were arrested in the early hours of 19 April after a passerby spotted them in the act and contacted Staffordshire Police. Judge Glenn ordered that the passerby receive a reward of £250.

Responding to the sentence, the director of communications for the Diocese of Lichfield Gavin Drake said: “While we do not take delight at people’s imprisonment; this was a very serious crime which has left the worshipping community at Stoke Minster with a very large repair bill.

"An attack on a church is an attack on the community and the sentence imposed by the court reflects the seriousness of the offence. I hope it will act as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to steal from churches in this way."

Mr Drake said the theft of metal had become so "endemic" that it is now "uninsurable".

He said: “While we have implemented a number of high tech security measures at our churches; our best defence is the vigilance of our neighbours and members of the public.

"I would urge anybody who sees anything suspicious at a church to contact the police or the church.”

Stoke Minster has launched an appeal for funds to Stoke Minster has launched an appeal for funds to meet the £30,000 repair bill to replace the stolen lead.

People who wish to donate can do so online at justgiving.com/stokeminster.

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