Churches vandalised in ‘religiously aggravated’ attacks

Example of the vandalism at St Paul's Church in Letchworth. Credit: St Paul's Facebook.

Hertfordshire Police arrested a man after three incidents of criminal damage caused at churches in Hitchin and Letchworth on August 25.

A 38-year-old man from Letchworth was also arrested in connection with further incidents of criminal damage on August 26.

The vandalism saw a stained glass memorial to World War I personnel smashed at St Mary’s Church, in Hitchin, alongside a depiction of Jesus Christ.

At St Paul’s Church, in Letchworth, the vandal threw more than 50 pieces of flint and brick through its windows. The attacks soon switched to St Mary’s, with the first incident at 2.10pm then 9pm.

In total, damages total above £10,000.

Before the arrest, Sergeant Stephen Oliphant told local press:”We are currently following a line of enquiry that they are religiously aggravated and, due to the damage caused to these historical buildings, the incidents are also being treated as a heritage crime”.

In spite of the distress, Simon Moore, vicar of the Letchworth church, stressed forgiveness for the accused. Congregants banded together to sweep away broken glass.

On August 27, St Paul’s Church captioned a part of the vandalism that bore a cross. It read: “From the damage of Tuesday, something glorious was instantly created from the broken lead window tracing”. It resumed its regular Sunday service and thanked individuals for their support and prayers.

Nor did St Paul’s Church have a history of vandalism; the last incident took place more than a decade ago.

The man has been bailed till late September.