Bromley Magistrates’ Court
17 January 2012
District Judge (Magistrates’ Court)
Lana Jane Clitheroe
Paul David Kelly
Lana Clitheroe and Paul Kelly have pleaded guilty to an allegation of theft, namely that on the 19th of October 2011 at St Mary’s Church, Lewisham High Street they stole a Bronze First World War Memorial Plaque of a value unknown belonging to St Mary’s Church SE13 Lewisham High Street. Paul Kelly has also pleaded guilty to an offence of burglary arising out of the riots which occurred last summer. So far as he is concerned, his offences taken together are so serious that this court’s sentencing powers are insufficient. He has 48 previous convictions for 92 offences. The theft offence was committed whilst he was on bail to this court for a common assault. His case is committed to the Crown Court for sentence.
Dealing now with Ms Clitheroe. I have read the prosecution statements. The war memorial is described by Father Scott Anderson, the Vicar of St Mary’s Church. He believes the memorial plaque had been in the church since approximately 1920-1925.The plaque displayed the names of some of those who had fallen in the First World War. It is described as being a large and heavy plaque, approximately 1.25 metres high and 1.75 metres tall. The impact of the loss of the plaque is described by Father Anderson. The stolen plaque is expressed to be invaluable to both the Church and the families whose relatives’ names appear on it. He cannot even estimate the value. He describes the feeling amongst the members of the Church and Local Community as being both ‘in shock and saddened.’
Those named on the memorial are remembered by family, relatives and fellow countrymen. The desecration of the memorial will be seen by many as an affront. The historic value of the plaque is incalculable.
The defendants were seen on CCTV wheeling the plaque in a supermarket trolley. They were recognised and later arrested. Ms Clitheroe pleaded guilty to the offence at her first appearance before this court. When interviewed by police following her arrest, she explained that she had been asked by Paul Kelly to assist him in taking some scrap metal in a trolley to a scrap yard. She was to receive a few cans of beer for her assistance.
A scrap metal dealer was approached by the Defendants; he very quickly realised what the item was and refused to accept it. Regrettably the plaque has not been recovered.
The seriousness of this offence is determined not only by the culpability of the Defendants, but also the harm caused. This offence was committed without a thought for the impact that their actions would have on individuals or the wider community. In assessing the harm caused, it is not simply the monetary loss in replacing the memorial which is to be taken into consideration, but the public feeling of many as described by Father Anderson.
The culpability of the Defendant is high-no thought was given beyond raising money for alcohol.
The additional aggravating factors in this case are the previous convictions of Ms Clitheroe-13 convictions for 23 offences. It is right to say that her last conviction was in 2006; she received a caution for shoplifting on 25th of September 2009
Ms Clitheroe had, according to her interview with police taken prescribed methadone and had then been drinking at the time of the offence. The offence was not pre-planned.
I have read the pre-sentence report prepared for Ms Clitheroe by the Probation Service. I have taken into account the representations made on her behalf and the personal mitigation put forward including the remorse expressed. Her risk of re-offending is assessed as high.
She pleaded guilty to the charge at the first reasonable opportunity-she deserves maximum credit for that.
I take the view that this offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.
Bearing all these factors in mind, the sentence of the court would have been 180 days in custody, but giving credit for a plea of guilty, that sentence will be reduced by one third. The sentence will be 120 days imprisonment.
You will serve half that sentence in custody; the balance will be served in the community. If you commit any further offence during the second half of the sentence, you can be required to serve the balance of the sentence in custody.
District Judge (Magistrates’ Court)