A THIEF who stripped lead from the roof of a historic former church was caught unloading it from a car.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Dean Lloyd and his accomplice Martin Burke were spotted on the roof of the Iron Church in Blackburn Road.

David Lees, prosecuting, told how the 19th century building, which is now used as an events venue, had been targeted by thieves for several days and at 3pm on March 22, two men were spotted on the roof.

Police were called but by the time they arrived the men had made a getaway.

The registration number of the car was taken and it was tracked to Folds Road, where officers found the men unloading six rolls of lead, worth a total of £300.

The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh, was told that it had cost around £7,000 to repair the building.

In an earlier hearing at Bolton Magistrates' Court Burke, aged 43, of Norden Court, Great Lever, who pleaded guilty to theft, was given a community sentence for nine months and was ordered to participate in rehabilitation activities, drug treatment and pay £400 in compensation.

Lloyd, aged 56, of Vincent Court, Great Lever. also pleaded guilty to theft and possessing amphetamine.

He was already subject to a suspended prison sentence for drug dealing and so was sent to Bolton Crown Court to be sentenced for the latest offence.

After hearing the evidence Judge Walsh ordered that Lloyd be electronically tagged and made subject to an 8pm to 6am curfew for three months.