Vicar 'disappointed' after drug-smoking teenagers destroy bibles and vandalise church
PUBLISHED: 13:46 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:45 15 October 2019
A 13th century church has been desecrated by youths who tore up bibles and vandalised its altar, leaving the village community 'sad and disappointed'.
Essex Police has launched an investigation after four young men - who were believed to be under the influence of drugs - trashed St Mary's Church in Lawford on Saturday, October 12.
Reverend Simon Heron, who has been a vicar at the church for more than eight years, says this is the worst vandalism the church has seen in his time.
He said: "It's really disrespectful. This church is the centre of the community and it's a place where many people enjoy coming to. It's a place of God."
Rev Heron, 51, said that a member of the church spotted four boys who "smoking drugs" inside the church in the early hours of Saturday afternoon.
"Bibles had been torn apart and thrown around, two banners were destroyed, the organ which was locked had been forced open and the altar had been trashed," Mr Heron added.
The four young men then rode off on their bikes after being caught, however Essex Police has confirmed that no arrests have been made so far.
Mr Heron has explained that the church, which was previously unlocked and open to the public, will now be closed outside of school hours to avoid any more vandals trashing it.
He said: "The church has always been open and we really wanted to avoid having to close it, but now we have no choice."
Earlier in the year, Rev Heron said the church had some low-level vandalism which meant it closed its doors for a couple of months. However this was not something they wanted to have to repeat.
"I'm just hopeful that whoever is responsible will realise their wrongdoing and come forward," added Mr Heron.
"The church is all about forgiveness and we will forgive them, but this incident is really sad and disappointing."
Rev Heron said police were called on Saturday afternoon where they examined the scene for fingerprints on the vaping gear, gathered photographic evidence which had been taken off the suspects who left on bikes, and also took cigarette butts for DNA purposes.
Essex Police confirmed that they are investigating the incident but no arrests have been made.