Attacked in his own church

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A BURGLAR has admitted beating up a religious elder after he was caught red-handed trying to raid a church safe.

Shane Clarkson, 22, admitted targeting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Wigan Lane, Wigan, in a bid to steal valuables.

But Liverpool Crown Court heard that after he was caught red-handed Clarkson attacked Elder Catalin Szauter in a bid to escape justice.

Clarkson, of Rosemary Crescent, Wigan, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal and assault by beating on June 9.

His barrister Paul Treble told the court Clarkson had been passing the church, which is close to where he lives, with an accomplice, when they decided to carry out the opportunistic raid.

After they went inside, they discovered the safe and were trying to gain access to it, when they were caught by Elder Szauter.

Mr Treble said that Clarkson was effectively caught red-handed and turned on the church elder in a “reckless” attempt to escape. He was apprehended close by.

Mr Treble accepted that the fact Clarkson had raided a place of worship was an “aggravating feature in itself”. The court heard Clarkson had a significant criminal record and had committed previous burglaries.

But Mr Treble said, “He does however have an organic brain disability. He is under the care of a psychologist.”

Mr Treble added that Clarkson was now making a major effort to distance himself from his criminal associates and tackle his drug addiction.

Judge Gerald Clifton adjourned sentencing until February 4 for and psychological reports to be completed.

He granted Clarkson further bail, but with a condition of residence. He also imposed an electronically-monitored curfew between 9pm and 6am.