Teen caged for flogging plaques for scrap

THEFT: 169 plaques were stolen from St Mary's Church in September. Jake Telford took a set of them to be sold for scrap in Wakefield. (d27091161)
THEFT: 169 plaques were stolen from St Mary's Church in September. Jake Telford took a set of them to be sold for scrap in Wakefield. (d27091161)

A TEENAGER has been locked up for selling treasured memorial plaques stolen from a churchyard for scrap.

A court heard Jake Telford was given £112.50 for some of the 169 plaques stolen from St Mary’s Church in Mirfield in September.

At the same time as Dewsbury magistrates considered the 17-year-old’s punishment, Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney was raising the issue of metal thefts in Parliament.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The theft of metal, particularly from war memorials, is an absolutely sickening and disgusting crime.”

On Wednesday, magistrates heard Telford was given a red bucket full of the brass plaques to weigh in at Eric France scrap metal merchants in Wakefield.

Carla Harris, prosecuting, said Telford was identified on CCTV footage when scrap yard staff heard about the plaque thefts, which were covered on the front page of the Mirfield Reporter.

Telford, of Lowood Lane, Birstall, who admitted handling stolen goods, can only be named after Reporter journalists challenged reporting restrictions. As a juvenile in youth court he was automatically given anonymity, but magistrates agreed to our application and waived his rights.

David Ward, mitigating, said Telford only found out later that the scrap metal was made up of stolen memorial plaques. The plaques were valued at £24,000.

When arrested, he told police he wanted to “strangle” the people who gave him the plaques to sell.

Telford also admitted a separate count of burglary in Goole and was found guilty of another burglary after a trial last month. On that occasion he stole a fire extinguisher from Fieldhead School in Batley and set it off in the school grounds.

He will be locked up for 18 months for the three offences and was also made the subject of a four year anti-social behaviour order.

As he was led down into the cells, he swore at magistrates and said: “Well quite frankly you can shove your sentence.”

In Parliament, Mr Cameron said the government was reviewing regulations for the scrap metal trade.

Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) has asked scrap metal dealers in West Yorkshire to stop giving cash payments so that transactions can be traced.

However, just one of the 81 scrap dealers he contacted has replied.

l Overnight on October 29, St Mary’s Church in Church Lane was targeted again by thieves who dug up 20 paving slabs.

The slabs were left in a pile in the church grounds.