Church’s forklift was stolen

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A man who handled a forklift truck stolen from a church has been sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid work.

Patrick Reilly, 36, of Floyd Road, Ribbleton, Preston, pleaded guilty to receiving the stolen vehicle, which belonged to Longton Community Church.

Ormskirk Magistrates’ Court heard how a man went to the church headquarters in Leyland on June 11 last year and agreed to pay £800 for the forklift.

A man later arrived at the scene, loaded the truck onto a vehicle and took it without paying for it.

No money was received and the church reported it as stolen.

Reilly was charged with stealing the forklift and also obstructing a police officer on August 23, 2013, but these charges were dropped by the court.

Magistrates instead sentenced him for handling stolen goods and gave him a 12-month community order.

They also told Reilly to pay £100 in compensation to the church and ordered him to pay £60 court costs.

A spokesman for the church said: “The owner of our building gave us permission to sell the forklift in order to raise funds for ‘Inside Out’, our community project which responds to the practical needs we encounter within our local area by providing furniture, decorating, clearing gardens etc.

“It was therefore very upsetting for him to steal from people that are already struggling enough with life.”