A man facing jail after he committed an “appalling” theft from a church was brought to justice thanks to an eagle eyed former detective – and The Gazette.
Michael Robinson, 49, held his head in shame as magistrates heard how he stole money, food, charitable donations and a candle stick from St John’s RC Church in Poulton.
After the thefts, which happened earlier this year, were discovered by Father John Walsh, the priest studied security CCTV images and realised the culprit had been caught on film.
Police asked for help from the media and the images, republished here, were printed in The Gazette.
That led to retired police officer David Cross recognising the man as Robinson – as he had had dealings with him when he was a serving officer.
Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the images had been spotted by Mr Cross in The Gazette.
Robinson, of Winnipeg Place, Bispham, admitted an offence of theft in July when he took £50 from a collection box and the food.
He returned to the church in August and stole the same collection box, the candle stick it was attached to and £275 cash from the box.
Magistrates heard Father Walsh had made a victim’s impact statement in which he said: “The church is a place of worship and a place where people should be able to come and pray.
“However, now there are concerns and the church may have to be closed at certain times of the day.”
Brett Chappell, defending, said: “This man stands with his head bowed in shame.
“Stealing from the church is an appalling act and he knows it. He shows heartfelt remorse.
“He had been out of trouble for a year and what has changed him?
“The answer is simple, drink.
“He has been drinking 11 litres of cider a day and he need intervention and support.”
Robinson was told magistrates needed pre-sentence reports on him with all options open including jail.