Assaulted as he knelt in RC church

10 June 2009

by Paul Wilkinson

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.”

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