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Yeovil man's lead raid on church roof 'over drug debt'

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

Lead theft

LEAD THEFT: The Thomas A Beckett Church in South Cadbury, where Yeovil man Michael James Giles stole lead worth nearly £5,000 from the roof. Picture by Sue Durant

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Desperate to pay off drug dealers, a Yeovil man stripped lead off the roof of a village church causing thousands of pounds’ worth of damage.

When a churchwarden went to check inside the Thomas A Beckett Church in South Cadbury he was greeted with the sight of water dripping from the chapel ceiling.

After police were called to the scene they discovered a cigarette butt on the ground near some lead which had been taken from the roof.

A DNA hit was recovered which led to the arrest of Michael James Giles who had come back to England after fleeing to Cyprus to “face the music”.

Giles, 20, of Westfield Grove, pleaded guilty to stealing a quantity of lead worth £4,795 on August 18, 2011, when he appeared before South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates.

Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said that John Churchill, the churchwarden at South Cadbury, was called to investigate water leaking from the church roof.

“He found that lead had been taken from the roof covering a patch of about 12ft by 15ft and near the bin was a cigarette butt which was matched by DNA to the defendant.

“He was arrested in September last year but said he was due to fly to Cyprus for his sister’s wedding,” he said.

“However he didn’t come back and was arrested on a warrant when he returned to this country.”

The court was told that the damage to the church had been repaired but the incident had had repercussions on the villagers.

“This crime has caused a great deal of distress to the local community,” added Mr Richings.

Sam Morton, defending, said Giles got involved in using cocaine from the age of 16 and it spiralled out of control to the extent that he had a £60 a day habit.

He said: “It got to the stage when he was getting his wages and handing it all directly over to the drug dealers. Demands were made to him saying there would be serious harm caused to him if he did not pay.

“Believing these threats, he was working near South Cadbury and knew there was a church there.”

He said that Giles didn’t think properly when he went to the church and shinned up a drainpipe and used his bare hands to rip off the lead.

Mr Morton said: “He only received a few hundred pounds for the lead and is desperately sorry for what he has done.”

Magistrates sentenced Giles to a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work and he was also ordered to pay £2,500 compensation.

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