A MAN who broke into a priest's home and stole wine, whisky and cash donations for childrens' first communion and had called at the father's front door to ask for charity just weeks before, has been jailed for three years.
William Stanley, 40, of Selhurst New Road, denied burgling Father Patrick Cannon's residence next to St Dominic's Catholic Church in Violet Lane, Waddon on the night of June 10 this year, but he was found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey on Thursday (November 27).
Giving evidence during the trial, Father Cannon said he did not discover the burglary until he and fellow church worker Lorenza Bellavia found a broken window and ransacked drawers in his meeting room on June 11.
He said six bottles of whisky, two bottles of wine, given as gifts, as well as money had been taken, adding: "The cash was in envelopes from parents and family members of children who were due to have their first Holy Communion. It was probably about £40 - £50."
Money collected for candles, amounting to about £20 in change, had also been taken.
Prosecutor Duncan Cooke told the court on Tuesday that a bloodstained tissue was found at the scene by Father Cannon.
Police forensics experts matched Stanley's DNA to the blood on the tissue, with the probability it was not his of one billion to one, he added.
When police arrested Stanley, around a fortnight after the burglary, he had a cut to his hand, Mr Cooke told the jury.
He said: "Stanley told police the cut to his hand had been from when he was working on bicycles.
"He pointed out the tissue was a moveable object and that must have got into the house somehow but not coming from him.
"He said he had been at the house before and had spoken to Father Cannon on a number of occasions."
Though Father Cannon said he did not know the name William Stanley, when police showed him a picture he recognised him as a man he had given charity to, but only once.
He said: "About a month before the burglary took place he came to my house. He knocked on the door and I had a short conversation and gave him a glass of water.
"He asked for some money so I gave him around five pounds in change out of my own pocket.
"That was the only time I've ever met him."
Speaking after Stanley was convicted, Detective Constable Simon Nicholls, from Croydon CID, who investigated the case, said:
"After we identified Stanley through the DNA evidence on the tissue, we discovered he'd previously visited the priest a few weeks before and had been given a glass of water and some coins by the priest after learning about his apparent hardship.
"The fact that he turned on someone that had offered him help and support and thought to steal from them is a terrible thing. He'll now be spending a considerable time behind bars where he will be able to reflect on his actions."
A 16-week prison suspended sentence previously given to Stanley for shoplifting was also activated.