'Vicious and menacing' burglar jailed for two years after breaking into priest's home and stealing charity boxes

A “vicious and menacing” burglar who intimidated an elderly and disabled priest for months, and then robbed him, has been jailed.

Fr Edmund Worthy, of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart church, in Wellingborough, was the subject of repeated requests for money from 25-year-old Kieran Harte.

Sentencing Harte to two years and 12 weeks in prison, Judge Ian Alexander told him: “You entered the home of Fr Worthy, an elderly and kind man. Despite your aggressive and persistent behaviour he has helped you and you abused this when you entered his house with breathtaking arrogance. You stole charity boxes. This is disgusting behaviour. You are a violent menace and your presence is a menacing one.”

Despite the judge’s remarks at Northampton Crown Court, Fr Worthy said after the case that he would welcome Harte back to the church after he had served his jail sentence. “I feel sorry for him,” he said. “He didn’t have much of a chance. When I think of my own childhood, it was very different to how he grew up.

“He had some real problems and had approached me for money for many months, which was intimidating. I had tried to help him. But when he broke into the house he broke the law, which is why he is going to prison. I do hope that parole and prison officers work with him. I would like to welcome him back to the church as a Christian,” said Fr Worthy.

The court heard how Harte – of Masefield Close, Wellingborough – went to the priest’s home. Fr Worthy was in his upstairs living room when he heard a noise. He was too frightened to move and heard someone coming up the stairs. Harte appeared in the doorway.

When Fr Worthy asked what he was doing in the house, Harte simply said “hello” and fled. The priest later found a rock had been thrown through his window, and 24 charity boxes were missing.

Harte, who was also serving a suspended sentence at the time of the burglary, last July, initially told police it must have been mistaken identity, but he later confessed, saying that he stole for money to buy drugs.

Fr Worthy has now placed a note on his door saying that visitors will not be given money, and not to ask for it: “It is really a shame because with the recession there are a lot of people who would like to approach the church for help. While we do try to help in genuine cases, having people come to the door and asking for money cannot continue after this,” he said.