A VANDAL named Jesus smashed a church window before writing a grovelling letter to a priest claiming he will change his ways and become a monk.
Members of the congregation at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Hayling Island were dismayed when they discovered the damage to a window overnight.
It came as a Father Mark Whiting had already taken the decision to install CCTV after a spate of people stealing from the church after it was left open longer to encourage worshippers.
But when police found the culprit there was more than a raised eyebrow as he gave his name as Jesus Luke Ripley.
The 27-year-old was charged with burglary but this was dropped by prosecutors who charged him with £978 worth of criminal damage.
Asked about the unlikely-named vandal, Fr Whiting said: 'That was interesting.
'Through restorative justice he's also written to me a letter saying that he would never have broken into a church if he hadn't been chased and he was looking for refuge and he wants to be a monk.
'I don't make anything of it – I take it at face value.
'I don't know quite what he was doing, it looked like he was drunk. He walks in and walks down the aisle.
Ripley, of Colonels Lane, Kent, admitted the damage on May 4 and was ordered to pay £978 compensation at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.
Fr Whiting added: ‘He didn't do a huge amount of damage - he smashed the window and got through a tiny little hole and then he just - and it was quite funny watching it on CCTV - he walked in and straight out.
'He realised there was nothing in here.
'The one thing that upset everyone here was the mindlessness.
'The window was boarded up for a couple of weeks, it was ugly – it wasn't a proper stained-glass window, it was a bit low key.’
The Poppy Appeal tin has twice previously been stolen from the church.
'The one that was more of a problem is we tried to keep the church open, we had a spate of people coming in and helping themselves to things and helping themselves to the Royal British Legion box,’ Fr Whiting said.
'We're having to lock it more and having to put CCTV in.
'Two years in a row we've had the British Legion box taken.’
Prosecutors offered no evidence on the burglary charge.