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Serial thief sentenced

03 May 2013


A SERIAL burglar, who is said to have complained to police that collection boxes today were not as bounteous as they had once been, targeted 560 churches for more than a decade ( News, 1 March).

Christopher John Coulthard, aged 50 and originally from Bedworth, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was sentenced to four years last week, after his latest series of break-ins, which involved 39 churches across northern England and the Midlands.

Hull Crown Court heard how Mr Coulthard marked potential targets on an Ordnance Survey map, mostly in rural byways. Travelling by bike, he used a drill to break into vestry safes and offertory boxes, frequently escaping with only a few pounds.

He began his latest series of thefts in November, within days of being released on licence from a six-year sentence, imposed in 2010 for similar offences. Police issued a nationwide alert, and by the time he was captured in Ulrome, near Hornsea, on 24 February, he was on the wanted list of six counties.

Sentencing Mr Coulthard, who admitted five burglaries and asked for 34 more offences to be considered, the Recorder, Julian Smith, said: "You told the probation officers the money does not belong to anyone. It is there, donated, and not going to cause any direct loss to anyone. . . There is a level of persistent determination and organised planning which makes your offending very serious."

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