In Oxfordshire, a man has been prohibited from entering any church in England without written authorization due to his repeated targeting of religious institutions across three counties.
Christopher Coulthard, who also received a three-year and four-month prison sentence, was apprehended after a vigilant member of the public recognized him on CCTV, where he was caught stealing from a village church’s collection box in June. Coulthard had also committed thefts from a Catholic school and a purse during the Covid lockdown.
The case was presided over by Judge Ian Pringle at the Oxford Crown Court, where he pronounced the sentence and imposed a criminal behavior order that forbids Coulthard from entering religious premises without obtaining prior written consent from an authorized individual, such as a minister or churchwarden. In addressing Coulthard, the judge expressed firm disapproval, remarking, “This is a recurrent pattern of offenses you’ve committed in the past, and you’re well aware of the consequences. I cannot strictly adhere to the sentencing guidelines, given the extensive recurrence of your criminal activities.”
During his court appearance last Friday, Coulthard admitted guilt in relation to one church burglary and possession of stolen cash, charges he had previously acknowledged. However, he contested a charge related to carrying tools designed for burglary in Radley in August and pleaded not guilty to the possession of the class C drug Tramadol, an opioid used for pain relief.
Gareth James, Coulthard’s defense counsel, highlighted his client’s years-long struggle with Tramadol addiction and requested that he be considered for a drug rehabilitation program. James explained to the court that Coulthard’s thefts were driven by the desperate need to finance his drug habit.
Despite the defense’s plea, the judge rejected the request, remarking, “Such is the nature of the offending that he’s pleaded guilty to – and his record – that there is only one possible solution in this case, and that is immediate custody.”
This ruling comes as a result of Coulthard’s criminal activities that spanned across several counties. His crimes included theft from a village church, burglary at a Catholic school, and stealing a purse during the Covid lockdown. It was a vigilant member of the public who recognized him from CCTV footage, leading to his arrest last month.
The 61-year-old offender was subsequently brought before Judge Ian Pringle at the Oxford Crown Court. After a thorough examination of Coulthard’s criminal history, Judge Pringle handed down a sentence of three years and four months in prison. The judge’s ruling was firm and direct, emphasizing that Coulthard’s actions were a repeated pattern of offending. He stated that Coulthard was fully aware of the consequences of his actions, making it necessary for the court to deviate from standard sentencing guidelines due to the severity and frequency of his crimes.
In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Pringle imposed a criminal behavior order to prevent Coulthard from entering any religious establishment in England without written permission from an authorized figure, such as a minister or churchwarden. This measure is aimed at safeguarding places of worship from future acts of theft and intrusion by the offender.
During his appearance in court, Coulthard admitted to the burglary of one church and the possession of stolen cash, crimes for which he had already acknowledged guilt. However, he contested a charge related to carrying tools designed for burglary in Radley in August. Additionally, he pleaded not guilty to the possession of Tramadol, a class C drug primarily used for pain relief.
Coulthard’s defense counsel, Gareth James, highlighted his client’s long-standing struggle with Tramadol addiction, explaining that his thefts were driven by the need to fund his drug habit. Despite James’s request for Coulthard to be considered for a drug rehabilitation program, Judge Pringle deemed immediate custody as the only viable solution given the nature and frequency of the offenses committed by the defendant.