No show' thief

PUBLISHED: 11:36 09 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:43 04 May 2010

A MAN due to receive a prison sentence on Tuesday after stealing lead from an Ely church roof and selling it for scrap failed to turn up at court - after arriving late for a previous hearing. Joe Allgood, of Earith Bridge Caravan Park, climbed on the roof

A MAN due to receive a prison sentence on Tuesday after stealing lead from an Ely church roof and selling it for scrap failed to turn up at court - after arriving late for a previous hearing.

Joe Allgood, of Earith Bridge Caravan Park, climbed on the roof of the Countess Free Church, in Chapel Street, and ripped down almost £2,000 of lead.

The same day, he stole metal piles from the Environment Agency, in Prickwillow Road, but the operations manager followed the van he used as it left the site.

At Ely courthouse last Thursday, 34-year-old Allgood had been convicted of both thefts after a trial. He had failed to turn up for the hearing but arrived as magistrates were about to announce their verdict.

Allgood had received a 12-month suspended sentence lasting two years at Cambridge at Cambridge Crown Court, on March 24 last year, for a previous offence.

His barrister told Ely magistrates on Tuesday that Allgood claimed the probation service had revoked this but he was unable to attend court because he was unwell.

He told magistrates they would receive a doctor's note confirming this.

Prosecuting, Angela Sassoli told how witness Roy Maine saw men acting suspiciously near the Countess Free Church, on March 27. After hearing some whistling, he saw a blue truck arrive near the flat roof of the building, and wrote down the vehicle registration number. Minister Gordon Lowman later reported the loss of lead worth £1,900.

The same day, Environment Agency operations manager Darren Trumper discovered a compound had been broken into, piles were missing and the same blue van was seen leaving the site.

He followed the vehicle and alerted police. CCTV footage showed the van arriving at the Environment Agency at 2.45pm and leaving 10 minutes later.

Police arrived at the EMR recycling centre, in Snailwell, at 3.30pm, to discover the stolen items had been unloaded and paperwork issued for their sale. Allgood was a passenger in the van, and Carl Scarrow, who had earlier admitted both thefts, was the driver.

Allgood told police he was not present when lead was stolen from the church, and believed permission had been given for the removal of the metal piles.

Presiding magistrate Sue Thompson told Allgood: "A church is a vulnerable building, we are looking at a custodial sentence."

Allgood will be in court on August 21 and has been granted unconditional bail.

Scarrow, 26, of Broad Piece, Soham, is due to be sentenced on August 14.

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