AN ABERGAVENNY man was jailed after being caught with £3,700 of lead stolen from a church roof, which he said he’d bought to help pay for Christmas.

Jonathan Vaughn, 35, was caught after police got a call to say he was melting lead in his garden in St Faiths Close, Llanfoist.

Officers went to the house and sent a sample of the lead off for forensic analysis. When it was examined with UV light, investigators saw it was marked with “smart water”, proving it came from St Mary’s Church roof.

At Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court, Vaughn admitted handling stolen goods on November 5 last year. He was sentenced to four months for the offence and 113 days for a previous offence of assault after magistrates activated a suspended sentence.

Ruth Hale, prosecuting, said: “On November 4, police received a report from St Marys Church in Abergavenny they’d had a large amount of lead taken from the roof of the church. On November 5 police received an anonymous call that a male was melting lead in his back garden.

“Police did locate a large amount of used lead piled in the back garden. Mr Vaughn stated he had bought the lead to melt for Christmas money and refused to say where he’d bought it from.”

The court heard when Vaughn was interviewed he said he bought the lead for £200 from scrap men who were collecting in his street, hoping to make £150 in profit.

Ms Hale added: “He was aware the lead looked ‘dodgy’. On asking what he meant by that he said stolen.”

Some of the lead was recovered, but it has been melted down and cannot be restored to the roof, the court heard.

Defending, Mike Heames said: “Mr Vaughn bought the lead off, let’s say, rag and bone men, traders. He offered them £200 and they said ‘thank you very much’ as they’d obviously pinched it in the first place.”

Vaughn was very stressed at the time, he added, but said: “It was a mistake and now he’s going to pay for it.”

Chairman of the bench Brian White said: “This was a particularly mean offence committed for no other reason but profit.”