Two men who broke into a Bournemouth church and stole collection money as well as damaging sacred items have been jailed.
Darren Mark David Jones, aged 34, of Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, and William James, 49, of Bath Road, Bournemouth, were both sentenced to four years in prison at Bournemouth Crown Court on Thursday 12 December 2019.
James admitted to the burglary at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in Bournemouth town centre, while Jones admitted to that as well as five other burglary charges, including a previous break-in at the same church.
Jones also asked for a further seven offences to be taken into consideration when sentenced.
Dorset Police received a report at around 4am on Thursday 7 November 2019, from a priest living on the church site, who had heard noises in the church and seen two men leaving through a garden gate into Albert Road.
It was discovered that extensive damage had been caused – a sacristy table and two crucifixes were broken and glass vials containing sacred oil had been smashed. A safe containing money from collection boxes had also been removed.
Officers attended and stopped the defendants near to the church. They were found to be in possession of tools and a large amount of loose change.
The previous break-in at the church that Jones also admitted responsibility for had happened just days earlier, in the early hours of Friday 1 November 2019. On this occasion a number of money boxes were broken into.
He admitted three burglaries at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital – on Tuesday 23 July, Saturday 28 September and Friday 4 October 2019, where he stole money from a cafe area, vending machine and another money box as well as a DAB radio.
The sixth charge he faced relates to a burglary at the Kings Park Community Hospital on Sunday 30 June 2019; he broke in through a window and carried out a search of several rooms but it is not believed anything was taken.
Jones also asked for a further seven burglary offences, occurring between Sunday 7 July and Thursday 18 July 2019, to be taken into consideration.
Detective Constable Jo Regan, of Bournemouth CID, said: “Darren Jones and William James are heartless burglars who targeted premises that make a valuable contribution to the community.
“I am pleased that through a swift response by officers in the early hours of Thursday 7 November 2019 we were able to apprehend them near to the scene of the offence and bring them to justice for their offending.”