WOULD-BE lead thieves could have caused a fatal accident when they scaled the roof of a Grade II listed church.
As they climbed up on to the porch of St Hilda’s, in the inner-city Cross Green area of Leeds, they dislodged a coping stone and carved cross, which crashed to the ground. “It was so heavy that anyone standing below would have been killed,” the churchwarden, Felicity Greenfield, said. The impact shattered several paving stones.
Two weeks later, the building suffered more damage in another late-night attack, and, although nothing was stolen in either incident, the congregation now faces a £7000 bill for repairs and a new cross.
Mrs Greenfield said: “It’s just sheer wanton mindlessness, and it has an impact on the church. It is in a less well-off part of Leeds, and it doesn’t have a lot of money. There is insurance, but, as there were two incidents, it is two claims; so we have to pay two lots of £250 excess. That’s not the sort of money you find easily.”
Several young men were seen on the roof late one night. It is believed that they climbed a drainpipe to get on to the roof, and a ladder, stolen from a scaffolding firm near by, was found in the church grounds as worshippers arrived for a mass the next morning.
“The police say they were probably looking for lead, as the price has gone back up, and crimes are rising again,” Mrs Greenfield said. “And it was all for nothing, as, following replacement of the north side of the main roof eight years ago, the building no longer has any lead.”