A TEENAGER who admitted attempting to steal lead from a church roof has said he regrets his choices and wants to move on with his life.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, appeared at Swindon Youth Court yesterday to be sentenced for attempting to steal lead from the roof of the Church of St John the Baptist, in Abingdon Road, Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, between June 17 and June 18.

The youngster told the court: “I regret it, definitely.

“At the time I just thought about the money. I didn’t think about anyone apart from myself.

The attempted theft was discovered on the morning of June 18 when Susan Green arrived for work at the church at around 9am.

Police believed the thief had been disturbed since no lead had been taken from the roof, although £4,370 in damage had been caused.

Crime scene investigators discovered a screwdriver with fingerprints that matched those of defendant.

The youngster pleaded guilty to the offence at the earliest attempt when he appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on August 8.

Kirsty O’Connor, who represented him in court, said: “He’s been very candid about the offence. At the time of the offence he was homeless and he doesn’t work. He doesn’t have an income.

“He did go to claim benefits but he wasn’t entitled to any because he is only 17 and he was told he would have to be homeless for six weeks before he could claim anything.

“He heard from other people that taking lead and selling it could be a way of getting money.

“He is now living back at home. It’s fair to say his mother is not very happy with him and he’s in a huge amount of trouble at home. He understands that if he is involved with any further criminal damage he would be out of the home.”

Magistrates Diana Crockett and Peter Barrand ordered the youngster to pay £400 in compensation, although he was not ordered to pay any costs or an additional victim surcharge because of his limited means.

Because he is not working the order was deferred by six months, and he was also given a six-month referral order to the Youth Offending Team.

Mrs Crockett said: “You have pleaded guilty to this offence at the earliest opportunity. We’re going to make you the subject of a referral order for six months which will help you to move forward in a positive way in your life.”