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Judgement handed down to teen for stealing lead off church roof

By George Jackson

A teenager has been handed a six month suspended jail term for stealing lead off a church roof.

The 17-year-old Londonderry youth, who cannot be named because of his age, admitted stealing one hundred kilograms of lead from the roof of the Presbyterian Church at Kilfennan in the Waterside area on Tuesday morning.

A police officer told District Judge Barney McElholm in the city's magistrates' court that the police received a 999 call from a Kilfennan resident that he had seen a youth taking lead from inside the church grounds.

The resident challenged the youth who then threatened the man in an aggressive manner. The police arrived at the scene and found that two metres of lead had been removed from the church roof. There was also a hole in a fence surrounding the church which the local resident said was created by the youth during his escape from the scene.

An hour later the police received a second report of a youth scaling the fence around the church grounds. The police arrived and ran after the youth but they were unable to catch him.

"Two hours later a taxi driver pulled up outside Strand Road Police Station with a passenger in the back seat. The passenger was slumped over the back seat. He matched the description of the youth the police were looking for and he was arrested. His clothes were wet and torn. He became aggressive and started banging his head off the car seats and windows", the officer said.

After his arrest the youth denied stealing the lead and also denied causing criminal damage to the fence and threatening the man who had first reported him to the police. But in court his barrister Stephen Mooney said the youth admitted all of the offences.

"In mitigation the offences were detected, confessed to and hopefully will be dealt with, all within thirty-six hours", he said.

The District Judge imposed the suspended jail sentence and ordered the youth to pay compensation of £100 to the church authorities and £100 to the man he'd threatened.

"If he comes back before this court within the next two years, the starting point will be six months and it will then go upwards in respect of any other offences," Mr McElholm said.

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