Statue of Virgin Mary beheaded at church

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Vandals smashed windows in two Poulton churches before beheading statues of Joseph and the Virgin Mary.

Twelve window panes at St Chad’s Church on Ball Street were smashed by an unknown trouble-maker just two months after they were repaired.

The statue of Joseph at Poulton Methodist Church which was beheaded

The statue of Joseph at Poulton Methodist Church which was beheaded

The callous criminal then turned on the church’s outdoor Nativity scene, decapitating a statue of the Virgin Mary and stealing the head on December 29

Robert Sly, verger at St Chad’s Church, said: “It’s very disappointing especially because the windows had just been refurbished. We spent around £13,500 on them. We have no idea how much it will cost to repair the damage.

“The screen in front of our Nativity scene was smashed and the Virgin Mary had her head knocked off.

“Normally we don’t have problems with vandalism. We wouldn’t like any building to be vandalised but obviously the church is a special place for us.”

Windows smashed at St Chad's Church in Poulton

Windows smashed at St Chad's Church in Poulton

Meanwhile, church-goers at Poulton Methodist Church on Queensway were shocked by a similar beheading of a 3ft tall statue of Joseph in the congregation’s outdoor Nativity scene. The perpetrator had smashed a thick window of protective perspex to gain access to the religious display.

Church steward May Gandhi, 69, said: “We are all extremely upset because we are trying our very best to make the place look nice and celebrate Christmas. But we can’t stop people walking through the church so there’s really nothing we can do.

“The statue cost £135 to buy. There’s only a small group of us within the church who deal with this sort of thing –but what a shame it will be if we can’t have another Nativity next year.”

Martin Keighley, vicar at St Chad’s Church, said he was determined not to let the vandals win. He said: “I would rather someone smashed a Nativity scene than scare an old lady in her home or go around causing trouble for people.

“We are now looking to replace the statue of the Virgin Mary and make sure that the crib is repaired and the Nativity scene is there again next year. We will not let the vandals win. We will put the church to rights and make sure everything is as it should be.”

Police are investigating the reports of vandalism at the churches.

A police spokesman said of the incident at St Chad’s Church: “An unknown offender used a hammer-type weapon to smash windows in the church at around 10.30pm on December 29, causing around £1,500 of damage. A statue of Mary was decapitated and the head removed from the scene. The suspect is a white male in a black jacket.”

Of the incident at Poulton Methodists Church, he said: “Between December 29 and 30 unknown offenders approached a secluded church and damaged the manger. We currently do not have any suspects.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101, quoting the crime reference number WD1506544 (St Chad’s), or WD1506537 (Poulton Methodist).