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Man ‘launched revenge attack on own church over gay marriage vote’, court hears

Tom Batchelor
·2-min read
Mills Hill Baptist Church in Middleton, which has repaired the damage (Google Maps)
Mills Hill Baptist Church in Middleton, which has repaired the damage (Google Maps)

A man carried out a “revenge attack” on his church after they planned to hold a vote on whether to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies, a court is reported to have heard.

Patrick James pleaded guilty to causing nearly £15,000 worth of damage to the Mills Hill Baptist Church in Middleton, north of Manchester, including smashing stained glass windows - according to the Manchester Evening News.

The publication said that Manchester Magistrates Court heard James, 58, carried out the attack while the minister, James Pate, was on holiday in May 2019 .

Prosecutor Tina Cunnane said CCTV showed the defendant, who had been given keys to the building, arriving at the church in a taxi on crutches.

She said he entered the church and damaged stained glass windows, the alarm system and other property inside the building.

Ms Cunnane said a previous hearing had established James “made this attack upon the church as revenge because the church were due to have a vote as whether or not same sex marriage should be permitted”.

“He took great exception to that and said it would not be ‘God’s will’,” she was quoted by the publication as saying.

In a victim statement read to the court, Mr Pate said: “It has caused unpleasant feelings in the church, it seemed obvious that it was him and an inside job.”

James pleaded guilty to criminal damage and the case was adjourned for sentencing at Minshull Street Crown Court in March.

His defence lawyer, Richard Birtwistle, said: “The defendant maintains his actions he admitted were not motivated by any hostility towards those who are making an application to be married, namely those being of the same sex.”

Mr Birtwistle said his client was experiencing “significant difficulties ... regarding the misuse of alcohol which masked his emotional difficulties he was experiencing in regards to his young child who was particularly unwell”.

James has been bailed until the next hearing.

The vote was held as planned in May 2019 and the church voted not to register the building for same-sex marriage.

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