A MAN who broke into a church in the early hours as he committed his 25th burglary has been jailed.

Serial burglar James Gillespie broke into the Working Men’s Mission Church in Sankey Bridges and Dawson’s music shop in the town centre on the same day earlier this month.

The 46-year-old, who has 51 previous convictions for 107 offences including 24 for burglary, broke into the Thewlis Street church in the early hours of Sunday, May 7 – smashing a window and damaging an internal door in the process.

Gillespie, of Samuel Street, Sankey Bridges, then broke into the Sankey Street shop at 4.10pm the same day, stealing a music case.

Having been identified by blood left on the Working Men’s Mission Church’s door and by an employee of Dawson’s who found him to the rear of the property with a homeless man, Gillespie was arrested two days later on Tuesday, May 9.

Under interview, he claimed that he was staying at a friend’s house on Pickmere Street, near to the church, when he heard glass smashing and decided to go in and have a look.

Gillespie, who has served four prison sentence in the last year alone, also told police that he could not remember his whereabouts at the time of the Dawson’s break-in as he was under the influence of spice.

But on Thursday, May 11, Gillespie admitted two counts of burglary at Warrington Magistrates Court and breaching a supervision order earlier imposed upon him.

He was jailed for a period of 27 weeks and ordered to pay £20 compensation to both the church and Dawson’s.

Panel chairman Alan Davies said: “You are a prolific offender, and these offences are particularly distasteful because one was committed on a church.

“These offences are so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified in this case.”