Burglar admits stealing from church

A FORMER drug user who burgled an Ipswich church and stole donations from parishioners today vowed he had changed his criminal ways.Twenty-year-old Mark Harvey pleaded guilty to forcing his way through a window at Chantry Methodist Church and making off with the contents of a collection tin.

A FORMER drug user who burgled an Ipswich church and stole donations from parishioners today vowed he had changed his criminal ways.

Twenty-year-old Mark Harvey pleaded guilty to forcing his way through a window at Chantry Methodist Church and making off with the contents of a collection tin.

The donations from churchgoers had been left in the main hall of the Kingfisher Avenue church on August 7 last year.

After Harvey, of Woodbridge Road, Rushmere St Andrew, broke in, he took the money and made his escape but not before dropping a cigarette butt, which was the key to his capture.

During a hearing at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court prosecutor Stephen Colman said: "A cigarette butt was recovered by the organ in the main hall. It was forensically analysed and DNA matching Mr Harvey was found."

It is not known how much money was in the tin but Harvey's lawyer Mark Holt told the court it was thought to be a relatively small amount.

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He said Harvey, a maintenance and building worker, had no memory of the burglary but accepted the evidence proved he was responsible for it.

Mr Holt said: "It was a foolish act from someone to burgle a place and then leave DNA evidence on the scene.

"Mr Harvey will say he regrets his behaviour."

The court heard at the time of the burglary Harvey was smoking cannabis and was drinking alcohol excessively.

Mr Holt said Harvey, who had two previous convictions for burglary, had now turned a corner in his life and had given up using cannabis.

He said: "It was a conscious choice on his part to stop his offending behaviour.

"He has worked hard to try and make up for his wrongdoings and build relationships with his family.

"He was a teenager, he associated with the wrong group, drink became apparent to him and he was smoking cannabis."

Magistrate Diana Hunt gave Harvey credit for his guilty plea and ordered him to serve 80-hours community service.

N What do you think about Harvey's sentence? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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