A Blackpool vicar has today expressed his forgiveness after a man who went on a drunken wrecking spree in his church was ordered to personally apologise by a judge.
Michael Brown ripped the arms off a statue of Jesus on the church crucifix and smashed other religious artefacts when he got into the Holy Cross Church on Central Drive after a day-long drink binge.
Speaking after the verdict, Rev Peter Ennion of Holy Cross Church said: “We just feel sorry for the chap.
“We don’t feel any anger towards him whatsoever, we are just sad about what happened.
“All the damage at the church has been fixed and everything’s been put back where it was. We just want to draw a line under it now.
“As for the lad making an apology, I wasn’t aware of the order, so we will just have to wait and see what happens.”
Brown, of Chester Avenue, Poulton, admitted criminal damage and possessing cannabis when he appeared before District Judge Roger Lowe sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court.
The 29-year-old committed almost £3,500 of damage on a Saturday night leaving vicar Rev Peter Ennion and distressed members of his congregation to clean up and board broken windows so the following day’s service could go ahead.
Sentencing Brown the judge told him: “What you did was quite despicable. Even though this attack was not religiously motivated it must have greatly upset the congregation and the reverend.
“You caused great upset and great expense because you cannot afford to pay compensation for this drunken damage spree. You should apologise to the reverend in person.”
Unemployed Brown was given a 12-week jail term, suspended for a year, placed on 12 months supervision and ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work for the community.
He was ordered to pay Holy Cross £500 compensation.
Jane Yates, prosecuting, said a witness saw Brown inside the church and then heard windows being smashed.
The witness called the police who caught Brown when he slipped on grass trying to run away from the scene.
“Among the damage he had done was to pull the arms off Jesus on the church crucifix.
“When asked by police why he done the damage he said he had been out all day with friends drinking.
“When told where and what he had done he shook his head in disbelief.”
Steven Duffy, defending, said his client had originally been charged with religiously aggravated criminal damage.
“A hearing was held to determine whether this was spurred by a dislike of this church, religion in general or one specific faith.”
“The magistrates decided it was not a case of religious hatred.
“Brown has an ambivalent attitude towards religion. He has no particular beliefs.”
“He does not even know how he got into the church in the first place.”