Lead thief caught in churchyard with ladder says: ‘I was only there to take drugs’
- Credit: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY
A man caught in a Norwich churchyard with a ladder and tools denied trying to steal lead from the roof - instead claiming he was only there to take drugs.
Mihail Dudockin, 38, was quickly arrested after being spotted with another man trying to strip lead from the roof of St George's Church, in Colegate, just after 5am on August 8 last year, Norwich Crown Court heard.
John Morgans, prosecuting, said a resident living nearby noticed the men acting suspiciously and phoned police, who found Dudockin and his accomplice in the churchyard. They claimed they had been taking drugs, but officers found a ladder against the wall with an assortment of tools.
He said two piles of lead had been removed from the grade one-listed building, with rapir and replacement costs put at £4,000.
Dudockin, of Kensington Place, Norwich, admitted theft of the lead, possession of heroin and crack cocaine and a bail offence.
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Ian James, for Dudockin, said at the time of committing the offence he was long-term homeless. He said the case was different from more professional targeting of rural Norfolk churches as the pair did not have means of transporting the lead.
He said: 'This is an unpleasant but somewhat unusual theft. It lacks the hallmarks of a more professional operation.'
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Jailing Dudockin for 21 months, Judge Anthony Bate said theft of lead from church roofs in Norfolk was prevalent but said that this was more unusual in that it involved a city centre church.
He said they had been spotted by a vigilant neighbour, who called police straight away before they had time to take very much lead off the roof.
He said that a portion of the roof of the south aisle had been removed at a repair cost the congregation could ill-afford.
After the theft, the Rev Alaric Lewis said the funds to repair the roof would have to come out of reserves, which would otherwise be spent on church initiatives or general upkeep.
He said: 'The victims of this crime are the people who support and love this church. It is shocking that this happened in the city surrounded by people, when it was light outside.'
This paper has backed the Raise the Alarm campaign, which was launched by Norfolk's police and crime commissioner and church charities to fund the installation of alarm systems at some of the most vulnerable of the county's 650 or so churches.