BY Peter Diamond | October 25 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Parish priest says convicted Christmas day thief ‘needs our prayers’

A parish priest has asked for people to pray for a man convicted this week of stealing a three-figure church collection on Christmas Day.

James Caldwell, 38, entered St Brendan’s in Glasgow’s Yoker (right) at the end of morning Mass on December 25, 2018. According to evidence given at Glasgow Sheriff Court he then waited until it was quiet before swiping £300.

Mr Caldwell was convicted last month of theft after it emerged he was caught on CCTV. This week he was sentenced to a maximum community payback order of 300 hours over six months and placed on an electronic tag.


Sheriff Antony Deutsch said: “This was a serious matter which you could have gone to jail for. If you breach this order you will be back before me and you will certainly go to prison.”

A previous hearing showed footage of Mr Caldwell slowly moving to a cupboard where donations were kept before fleeing.

St Brendan’s parish priest Fr Joe McAuley said: “Our collection the week before the money was stolen was £300. I think the person that stole it had thought all their Christmases had come at once but thankfully he was caught on the CCTV.

“I was a bit upset that it had to go to trial as the date was set for two days into my holiday so I was very grateful to the fiscal who relieved me of appearing as a witness. Otherwise, the parish would have been down £300—and the money for my holiday would be wasted too.”

A poor soul

Fr McAuley added: “Sadly, it’s not the first time we have come to know James. He is a poor soul who needs our prayers. We have so much to thank God for, we are the lucky ones.”

James Gilchrist, 80, who collected the donations, said: “When I came back to get the money, it was gone and so was he.”

Mr Gilchrist did not know exactly how much cash was stolen but he told the court that St Brendan’s raised £300 the previous week.

Sheriff Anthony Deutsch added: “The evidence is overwhelming and you have not presented anything that causes me any reasonable doubt.”

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