Teenager Mark Knight was found guilty of stealing £25,000 worth of lead from the roof of Rochester Cathedral, which he then sold on for a mere ninety pounds.
On 19th December he appeared before Maidstone Crown Court for a confiscation hearing.
Judge James O’Mahony settled for the sum of one pound. Yes, one hundred pennies; the price of a small bar of chocolate; a week’s pocket money for a five year-old.
Wright had already received a two year jail sentence before the confiscation hearing which saw his defence claim he was homeless and had never received any state benefits.
The court heard how Knight sold the lead to Medway Metals in his hometown of Strood, with ‘no questions asked’.
I got the impression that young Mark Wright was perhaps one of those fellows who has never managed to fit into society, even to the point of not being able to get himself to the benefits office.
Obviously, I don’t condone what he did, but I wondered why the newspaper article said nothing about punishment for the company who received the stolen goods, so I emailed Medway Metals, as follows:
I operate a news website – thelabourparty.org – which has no connection to the UK Labour Party.
I read in the Daily Mail online that you paid a teenager, Mark Knight, £90 for £25,000 worth of lead.
Your website states that you were established in 1999, so I find it strange that you would not have been pretty certain that the lead had been stolen; after all, who would sell such a large amount of lead for such a small price?
Perhaps I am missing something, but I would have thought that a genuine owner should have some idea to its value and that an honest scrap dealer would have paid a much fairer price.
Like I said, perhaps I am missing something and if so, I hope you will clarify the situation for me.
I also wondered if you will be helping the people at Rochester Cathedral to replace the stolen lead.
I just wanted to give you the opportunity to help me to understand the situation to the fullest as I wish to write about it this evening and do not want to misrepresent you.
Thank you in advance for your help.
That was six days ago and I am still awaiting a reply, so I think I can safely say they are not interested in defending themselves and that I am free to offer my opinions.
Perhaps they have all gone off to the Caribbean for the winter on their ill-gotten gains?
Imagine if anyone other than a scrap metal dealer had handled £25,000 worth of stolen goods, almost certainly knowingly. They would have been frogmarched off to the police station faster than you could say ‘Rochester Cathedral’.
Somehow, the Arthur Daley types always seem to get away with it.
The financial breakdown of the case seems to be as follows:
Mark Wright – pays £1.00.
Rochester Cathedral – lose £25,000 worth of lead.
The Taxpayer – pays around £50,000 to keep Mr Wright in prison for two years, plus extra money for police time and legal aid.
Medway Metals – increase the value of their stock by £24,910 net, which I hope the local tax office has noted.
So who pays the least – the thief.
Who pays the most – everyone else, except:
Arthur Daley, who makes a great big profit.
That’s justice in Britain, where two wrongs make a right and us taxpaying mugs can just shut up because the ‘authorities’ really are tough on people who leave their bins open six inches and on primary schoolchildren who are overheard calling someone ‘gay’ in the playground or who don’t have any fruit in their lunchboxes.