Tyne & Wear

Sunderland £15,000 'scrap' memorial thieves sentenced

Two men who sold a stolen £15,000 war memorial to a scrapyard for £124 have been given suspended sentences.

The 4ft by 2ft (1.2m by 61cm) bronze plaque commemorating civilian bombing victims was taken from Grangetown Cemetery, Sunderland in September 2010.

Anthony Roberts, 18, and John Ferguson, 37, both of Sunderland, took the plaque to a local yard, where it was saved from being melted.

They were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court for handling stolen goods.

Roberts, who left court with a coat over his head, said afterwards: "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done it."

Judge David Wood said the plaque was of "considerable sentimental value".

He added: "To have it stolen is bad enough, to have it weighed in at a scrap yard is just disgraceful."

The court heard Roberts, then 17, claimed he found the plaque lying in grass and returned the next day with Ferguson who had a van.

They took it to a local dealer, who weighed it with the inscription facing downwards.

Judge Wood sentenced Roberts, of Greta Terrace, High Barnes, Sunderland, to nine months in a Youth Offender Institution, suspended for a year.

Ferguson, of Athol Road, Hendon, Sunderland, was sentenced to six months, also suspended for a year.

Both men were ordered to carry out 150 hours voluntary work.

The memorial has since been restored and returned to its rightful place.

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