School milk thief taught a lesson

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A thief who stripped lead from the roof of a primary school and stole pupils’ milk got a telling off from the headteacher in front of the school.

Anthony Mark Sanderson was caught red-handed taking lead in a £500 attack on Barrowford Primary School. The 35-year-old, who had wanted cash to buy heroin, appeared before Burnley magistrates and admitted stealing.

But, the hearing was told, he had been accused of taking milk from the school, police had decided to deal with that by restorative justice and sent him straight to the head’s office.

Sanderson, who has more than 50 offences on his record, hated the humiliating reprimand.

Sanderson’s solicitor Mr Daniel Frazer told the bench: “He tells me that that was one of the worst feelings he has ever had. He was berated by the headteacher. That was brought home in quite a severe way, when he had to stand there and be accountable to the staff and the pupils of the school and apologise.”

The court was told the defendant, who is on employment and support allowance, tried to make off with the lead in “revenge” after he had fallen out with his girlfriend, had no cash, wanted to take some drugs, but didn’t want to go house raiding. Sanderson told police “ it wasn’t one of his better ideas”.

Sanderson, who formerly lived on Oaklands Avenue, in Barrowford, admitted theft of the lead on May 13th. The defendant, of Castle Street, Brierfield, was given an 18-month conditional discharge by the bench, who told him his actions had had an impact on “young, impressionable minds” and caused loss of confidence in feeling safe to the children.

Prosecutor Mrs Tracy Yates said about 7-45pm police received information a man was on the school roof. An officer went, climbed over the railings and found several rucksacks containing lead flashing on the ground. Sanderson owned up.

Mrs Yates continued: “In interview, he said he had fallen out with his girlfriend, had no money and in his words ‘to be honest, I wanted to take some drugs’. He said he didn’t want to burgle houses, he was walking past the school and it was opportunistic. The next thing he knew he was stealing lead. He said he found the bags in a shed at the school. He agreed it was a stupid thing to do and not one of his better ideas.”

Mr Frazer told the court Sanderson had a “terrible record” for dishonesty offences, but seemed to have tempered his behaviour. In the last three years, he had been before the courts twice. The solicitor continued: “For other people that may be quite a lot, but for Mr Sanderson it’s a marked improvement.”

The solicitor added: “It was spur of the moment. There was certainly no sophistication in standing on the roof in broad daylight taking lead from the school. He tells me he is free from drugs. He was at a low ebb.”