A Grantham man, who smashed an £18,000 stained glass window to escape with less than £200 from St Wulfram’s church collection box, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Monday.
Anthony George Smith, 39, of Warmington Avenue, admitted to separate charges of theft and criminal damage at Lincoln Crown Court.
Judge John Pini QC, described how on 20 August, Smith took part in the church’s evening service before hiding until everyone else had left. He then proceeded to break a collection box and steal around £150 in donations.
Upon finding himself locked inside the grade I listed building, the “prolific thief” smashed his way out through a rare William Wailes stained glass window named ‘Christ In Majesty’.
In a statement relayed to the court, clergy member Dr Brian Stagg described “scenes of despair” upon discovering the damage, which cost St Wulfram’s around £18,000 to repair.
Mr Christopher Jeyes, defending, asked the judge to be merciful and said Smith deeply regretted the event which was driven purely to fund a drug habit.
“There is some hope for the future, as my client is no longer in need of medication for his addiction,” he said.
The judge called Smith’s crimes “utterly disgraceful”, highlighting that the damaged collection box was made by an elderly member of the congregation who is suffering from dementia and was “viewed as a kind of memorial to him”.
After the passing of a combined 27-month sentence – 18 for criminal damage and 9 for the theft – Smith sarcastically called the judge a “superstar” and swatted a box of tissues in defiance.