Lana Clitheroe and Paul Kelly, both 42, pleaded guilty at Bromley Magistrates’ Court for stealing the bronze war memorial plaque from St Mary’s Church in Lewisham on October 19. Their images were captured on CCTV as they wheeled the object away in a supermarket trolley.
Clitheroe was sentence to 120 days in prison. As Kelly committed the crime while on bail for a previous conviction of assault, his case has been referred to the Crown Court for sentencing.
The couple attempted to sell the memorial plaque, engraved with 82 names of men who had fought in the First World War, to a scrap dealer, who refused to buy it. They later ended up selling it to another man for £15.
Judge Julia Newton said: “This offence was committed without a thought for the impact that their actions would have on individuals or the wider community. In assessing the harm caused, it is not simply the monetary loss in replacing the memorial which is to be taken into consideration, but the public feeling of many.”
Frances Moreton from War Memorials Trust said to EastLondonLines she would not comment directly on this specific case but that she was deeply saddened to hear about cases of theft and vandalism to war memorials.
She said: “Such acts show a lack of respect and cause a huge amount of upset to communities. Each war memorial is unique. It represents that community’s chosen method of remembrance. The names of those recorded on a memorial may only be remembered on that monument making it important to preserve it to commemorate that individual’s sacrifice.
“War memorials link the past to the present and enable people to remember and respect the sacrifice of those from their community who died, fought, participated or were affected by conflicts. “
Police launched an appeal for information after the plaque was stolen but it is yet to be found.