Lowestoft man who stole from Southwold’s parish church is jailed

A LOWESTOFT man who stole a Bible from Southwold parish church, and broke into the homes of two women in their 80s, was behind bars this week.

Stephen Friend, of Normanston Drive, was jailed for two years and three months for the two house burglaries and the theft from St Edmund's Church.

Friend, 34, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court last week for sentencing, having admitted carrying out break-ins at Halesworth Road, Reydon, on Tuesday, November 9 last year, where jewellery was stolen; and at Constitution Hill, Southwold, in August 2008 when he took vaulable antiques.

He also pleaded guilty to the theft of a Bible, foodstuff and jewellery from St Edmund's on November 9. The court heard that Friend was arrested last November, shortly after the burglary in Reydon.

A woman in her 80s spotted a man looking through windows at her home and called him into her house. He spoke to her before leaving.

At 2pm that day, Friend was stopped by police in Southwold and was found to have items on him that had been stolen from the church.

He also had two jewellery boxes in his bag and these were found to belong to the woman in her 80s.

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After his arrest, his fingerprints were submitted for further analysis – connecting him with the 2008 burglary.

Speaking after the sentencing, Det Insp Darrell Skuse said Friend had deliberately preyed on his elderly victims and callously stolen from a church.

'We are pleased the court has seen fit to jail Friend for these offences,' he said. 'Both the burglaries were committed against ladies in their 80s, with the 2008 offence involving around �1,000-worth of antique ceramics.

'In the case of last year's break-in, he played on the lady's good nature and her vulnerability to gain entry to the property and then left with about �1,000 of her jewellery...

'The theft from the church also shows a complete disrespect and disregard for both his victims and the community's feelings.'

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