Jail term for man who stole from cathedral

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A serial burglar who targeted two of Bury St Edmunds best known landmarks has been jailed.

Matthew Eke, 35, climbed in through an open window at the Angel Hotel to steal a purse containing £100 and a gold earring worth £100.

Four days earlier, along with another man, he had broken open a charity display cabinet at St Edmundsbury Cathedral and stolen £150.

The other man was given a police caution for his part in the offence.

Eke pleaded guilty to two offences of burglary and asked for 56 other offences in Suffolk and Norfolk to be taken into consideration when he appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday.

The offences taken into consideration involved the theft of property worth £28,301, of which only £12,518 has been recovered. Those offences included burglaries at unoccupied houses in Churchgate Street and Crown Street in Bury, theft from Bury Leisure Centre and from schools, factories and supermarkets in the town. He had also burgled an industrial unit in Stanton and stolen alcohol from a Stowmarket supermarket.

The court heard that Eke, formerly of Tayfen Road, Bury, and now of no fixed address, had appeared in court on 34 previous occasions in connection with 99 offences.

In mitigation, Edward Renvoize said that Eke had turned to burglary and theft to help pay for his drug addiction.

Some of the offences which Eke had asked to be taken in consideration dated back to 1998 and included another burglary at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in 2009 when a charity box was stolen.

Mr Renvoize said: “He has been extremely frank and honest with officers to help solve their backlog of unsolved crimes.”

Jailing him for 18 months, Judge John Holt told Eke that the 76 days he has already spent in custody would be deducted from his sentence.

Det Con Duncan Etchells of the police Operation Converter team, said he hoped the court result would give Eke’s victims some closure.

He said: “These offences affected a lot of people over a period of years, from those at the cathedral and schools who had to deal with the loss and clearing up after Eke to those individuals who were victims of thefts.

“We are pleased he decided to co-operate with us in order to give his victims some peace of mind that someone has been traced and dealt with for these crimes – in some cases years after the original offence.”