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Vandalism by child, 9, leaves village church with £15,000 bill

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A small community near Fakenham has been left angered and upset after a nine-year-old child smashed historic stained glass windows.

An early estimate of the cost of repairs at St Peter’s Church in Dunton has been put at £15,000.

Stained glass expert Terry Devlin was asked to assess the damage and called it the worst case of vandalism to a church window he had ever seen.

One of the two stained glasses which were smashed. (41222577)
One of the two stained glasses which were smashed. (41222577)

To make matters worse, the child responsible is under the age of criminality so police were unable to take any further action. However, it has been suggested that the child’s parents are willing to contribute towards the cost of repairs.

The damage occurred during the daytime on Friday, August 14, and a small group of children were stopped by nearby residents as they left the area.

St Peter’s is one of a number of redundant churches which is cared for by Norfolk Churches Trust.

Secretary Scilla Latham said the children were “sheepish” when questioned about what they had been doing on the premises. The vandalism was then spotted and police were called.

Mrs Latham said she understood the child who admitted causing the damage was a holidaymaker.

“It seems such an appalling act of wanton destruction, especially by a child. There’s a massive amount of damage. It’s almost beyond comprehension.

“One of the two broken windows was particularly lovely and was a memorial to two people from Dunton in the 1890s.

The clear-up begins. (41222579)
The clear-up begins. (41222579)

“I was extremely upset and distressed because, although its not my parish church, I’m responsible for organising its upkeep and opening.

“You can say ‘oh, it’s only a redundant church’ but this has affected very many people, including the local rector, Robin Stapleford.

“It’s a horrible story and very, very upsetting for everybody involved.

“Why come on holiday to such a nice rural place as Norfolk and then destroy the heritage of it?”

Mrs Latham added that although she understood that the child’s parents were willing to pay towards the cost of repairs, she had had no formal confirmation and had heard nothing from them by Tuesday.

“They’re not being very fast in coming forward,” she said. “A letter from them or even the child saying that they were deeply sorry would have been nice.”

It is not yet known how much of the repairs could be covered by insurance.

Mrs Latham says she has been overwhelmed with many offers of support, including from a former Norfolk resident now living in the United States and a Catholic priest in Derbyshire.

“Every cloud has a silver lining,” she added.

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