Heroin addict who broke into church and stole mince pies is jailed

A drug dealer has been jailed after breaking into a church and causing thousands of pounds worth of damage – and even stealing a tray of mince pies.

The church warden at Christ Church in Harpurhey, off Rochdale Road in Manchester, was distressed one Sunday morning in January when he entered the place of worship to find scenes of devastation.

The intruder had cut themselves, leaving a trail of blood and DNA which led police to the suspect – 56-year-old Gary Fleming.

Appearing in court, where he pleaded guilty to burglary, Mr Fleming revealed he had been living opposite the church and broke in to the building in the hope of stealing money to buy drugs.

Manchester Evening News reports that a sound mixer worth £500, a hoover worth £200 and mince pies worth £1 were stolen in the late-night raid.

A 500-year-old oak door was also damaged during the break-in, as was the church's burglar alarm and a fire exit door.

Manchester Crown Court heard that at lease £3,500 worth of damage was caused by the chaotic break-in.

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Mr Fleming was captured on the church CCTV system and was traced to Salford where he was arrested.

While the criminal claimed to have no recollection of breaking in to the church, he did pleaded guilty to burglary.

His defence lawyer, Mr Stuart Duke, said that his client was "ashamed of himself" for breaking into a church, and felt remorse for his actions.

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He also said: "He is far too old now to be committing this sort of offence, in looking for money for drugs."

Sentencing, Judge Michael Leeming said churches "should be respected as a place of worship".

Mr Fleming was jailed for eight months for his crimes.

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