Metal thief targets derelict Padiham school

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A Padiham thief with a criminal record “gathering pace like the Encyclopedia Britannica” was caught stealing lead from the roof of a derelict school.

Darren Rushton (34) was found by police on top of the former Padiham County Primary School, which is under demolition.

The demolition of the old Padiham Primary School gets underway.

The demolition of the old Padiham Primary School gets underway.

The defendant, who was living at an address in Ingham Street, admitted attempted theft when he appeared before before Burnley Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that Rushton was found on the roof by police who were called to the historic school site in Burnley Road in the early hours of Saturday.

He was captured trying to scale the fence and police reported hearing Rushton say “I was looking for lead”. The defendant has a record of 82 offences including those for theft and burglaries.

David Lawson (defending) explained his client had been released from prison just weeks earlier but found his benefits had been slashed by nearly 50%.

He said the defendant was moving house but was struggling to find money to buy a bed and decided on impulse to look for lead to sell when walking past.

Sentencing, magistrates said: “It would be an understatement to say that your record is fast gathering pace like Encyclopedia Britannica. You need to start changing your life.” He was given £95 in fines.

The school building closed nearly four years ago. But now demolition men are on site bringing down the shell of the 105-year-old school branded an “eyesore” by local councillors.

Hopes are once the building is flattened the land can be sold of by the county council for development.