POLICE are hunting a mugger who attacked and robbed a pensioner as he knelt at prayer.
Terry Finlay, 71, was in St Bede’s Roman Catholic Church, Sacriston, Co. Durham, at about 8.30 a.m. on Thursday last week, when he was hit on the head with a piece of wood. His assailant, a man of about 40, then demanded money.
Mr Finlay handed over his wallet, which contained about £140, and his attacker fled through a side door. Mr Finlay suffered bruising, but was not seriously hurt.
“This was a vicious attack on a vulnerable man,” said Detective Sergeant Amanda Henderson, of Durham Police.
The robber is described as white, of medium build, with thin fair hair of medium length. He was unshaven, and spoke with a local accent. Police believe that he had visited the church previously, and could be sleeping rough near by.
“This is a terrible attack,” Fr Jim Cronin, the parish priest at St Bede’s, said. “I have been in the Church for 50 years, and I have never heard of anything like this. It is shocking to think someone would do this, especially in a church.”
He said that Mr Finlay was a daily worshipper. “He came to me after the attack: I was in the priest-house next door. He was holding the piece of wood — it was almost like a chair leg. I almost couldn’t believe it.”