South Tyneside school’s £8,000 bill over lead theft

COUNTING THE COST ... St Bede's RC Primary School headteacher Moya Rooney after lead was stolen from the school roof.

COUNTING THE COST ... St Bede's RC Primary School headteacher Moya Rooney after lead was stolen from the school roof.

A SCHOOL in South Tyneside is counting the cost of having the lead stripped from its roof as two men walked free from court for the part they played in the raid.

St Bede’s RC Primary School in Harold Street, Jarrow, has been forced to pay £8,000 from its own budget to repair the damage caused during the raid in September.

Headteacher Moya Rooney said: “It caused about £8,000 of damage and the children had to have two days off. It is mindless.

“It is such a shame that we have had to use the school budget to pay for the damage.

“That could’ve been spent on resources for the children, or taking them out to nice places.”

Mrs Rooney spoke after two men who were found in possession of the lead were each ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.

Anthony Howard, 21, and Kristopher Hall, 22, both denied carrying out the theft, but Hall admitted receiving the stolen goods and Howard admitted handling the stolen goods at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard the men, both of Epinay Walk, Jarrow, were caught pulling a wheelie bin full of the lead by an off-duty police officer who was returning home from a shift on Thursday, September 5.

Zeena Begum, prosecuting, said: “A police officer driving home from Hebburn Police Station saw two men with a wheelie bin near St Bede’s Primary School.

“She recognised one of the men as Kristopher Hall and recognised the other but couldn’t initially recall his name.

“She later remembered it to be Anthony Howard.”

The officer kept track of the pair as they travelled towards Hall’s home in Epinay Walk, and informed an on-duty officer.

The wheelie bin full of lead was found in Hall’s garden, and both men were arrested.

The court was told Howard had said in a police interview the two men had found the bin while out walking.

Geoffrey Forrester, defending Howard, said: “He came to court on December 20 and pleaded guilty to a charge of handling goods. He is entitled to maximum credit for his guilty plea.”

Ian Cruickshank, defending Hall, said his client’s role in the offence was being asked to assist with the moving of the lead by an unnamed party

He added: “There is no evidence he had anything to do with the theft at all. The damage to the school cannot be laid at his feet.”

The court heard that the caretaker of the school had locked up as usual on Wednesday, September 4, but when opening up at 7am the following morning, noticed five or six tiles lying in the playground and that lead was missing from the library roof and tiles had been damaged.

District Judge Helen Cousins told the pair: “Without handlers, there would be no thieves. I am sentencing you both to a community order of unpaid work.”

Both men were ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

They were also each ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £60.

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