Birstall man jailed for cashing in Mirfield church’s stolen memorial plaques

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A BIRSTALL man has been jailed for selling treasured memorial plaques from St Mary’s Church, Mirfield, for scrap.

Nathan Luke Hallsworth, 26, received a six-month sentence yesterday for weighing in 11kg worth of the 169 stolen plaques, which were taken from the garden of memorial last September.

Leeds Crown Court heard Hallsworth took the plaques to Eric France scrap merchants in Wakefield on September 23 after being given a rucksack full of the stolen goods to cash in.

He received £30.20 for the gilded metal and brass plaques, but Eric France workers later reported Hallsworth to police after inspecting the scrap metal and realising it was the stolen plaques.

Hallsworth pleaded guilty but in a letter to the court, the 26-year-old denied knowing the metal was stolen from the churchyard.

When Hallsworth was arrested, police confiscated £320 in cash, which in court he offered to donate to St Mary’s to compensate for his part in the crime.

Sentencing, Recorder Richard Woolfall said Hallsworth had an ‘utterly appalling record’ and said the theft of the plaques was like a ‘punch in the stomach’ for the family and friends of the deceased.

After the sentencing, the Rev Hugh Baker of St Mary’s Church said the custodial sentence reflected the seriousness of the offence.

He added: “It’s a shame we still haven’t as yet found the people responsible for stealing the plaques.”