Christian thug smashed his own church in furious ‘revenge attack’ over same-sex marriage, court hears

Picture of a bible with a cross lying on it

A disgruntled worshipper mounted a “revenge attack” against his own church because it planned to vote on marriage equality, a court heard.

Patrick James, 58, allegedly said it was not “God’s will” that same-sex marriages be carried out at the Mills Hill Baptist Church in Middleton, Greater Manchester.

Tasked with watching over the church while its minister, James Pate, was out of town, he slipped in and caused almost £15,000 worth of damage in retaliation against the planned vote, prosecutors said.

According to Manchester Evening News, survivance footage showed James take a taxi to the church, entering on crutches.

Prosecutors told Manchester Magistrates Court that once inside, James shattered stained glass windows and battered the church’s alarm system, causing damages amounting to £14,561.

While James’ onslaught destroyed decades-old stained glass windows, it did little in scuppering progress – it is understood that the church later voted in favour of marriage equality.

Thug who trashed church had been given keys to ‘look after’ it

Prosecutors said that the minister, Pate, had left the church “locked and secure” on 3 May 2019 at 4:02pm. James had been left the keys, trusted to “look after the premises”.

Upon returning, the minister found the church gutted.

“There was damage to a window close to the main door,” explained prosecutor Tina Cunnane, “he knew then something was wrong.”

The alarm system had been “ripped off the wall and smashed”, as had the stained glass windows, and “other property inside the church had also been damaged”.

“[James] was seen to arrive in a taxi on crutches, he goes into the church and clearly he has admitted to causing the damage.”

He had taken “great exception” to the church’s upcoming vote on marriage equality, Cunnane explained.

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

For the minister, as James tore through the church, he destroyed the local community’s history in the process.

“The church burnt down in the 1980s and then it was rebuilt and many view the glass windows as a work of art,” he said.

“These were also seen for people as a symbol of the church being rebuilt and people have been concerned by what happened.”

Richard Birtwistle, mitigating, said that James was “not motivated by any hostility towards those who are making an application to be married, namely those being of the same sex”.

“At that time there were significant difficulties experienced by this defendant regarding the misuse of alcohol which masked his emotional difficulties he was experiencing in regards to his young child who was particularly unwell,” he added.

“He found it almost impossible to deal with the trauma of the care of the young child without trying to immerse himself in the misuse of alcohol.”

James pleaded guilty to criminal charges and will be sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court next month after magistrates adjourned the case.