‘Selfish’ thug avoids jail after trashing church in ‘hateful revenge attack’ over same-sex marriage

Stained glass windows at Mills Hill Baptist Church

Thug Patrick James has been handed a suspended sentence after trashing his own church in “mean and hateful” over a vote on same-sex marriage.

In May 2019, James, 58, caused almost £15,000 worth of damage to Mills Hill Baptist Church in Middleton, Greater Manchester.

The church had been planning to vote on whether it should perform same-sex marriages and James, a court previously heard, “took great exception to that”, insisting it “would not be God’s will”.

At the time of the attack, James had been entrusted with the keys to the church while the minister, James Pate, was away on holiday.

On 3 May, James was caught on CCTV entering the church on crutches, before smashing stained glass windows, TV screens and the church’s PA system.

Minister Pate discovered the evidence of what he previously described as a “revenge attack” two days later when he returned. James pleaded guilty to criminal charges in February, 2021.

According to Manchester Evening News, at James’ sentencing on Wednesday (14 April), prosecutor Helen Longworth told Manchester Magistrates Court: “At the time the church was due to vote in allowing marriage between people of the same sex.

“He was opposed to that and had previously been removed from the church’s Facebook group for homophobic comments.

“He went on to send a message the night before on Facebook, as well as an email to the minister’s brother-in-law who was a person married to another of the same sex.”

Rob Lancaster, mitigating, said James’ actions were caused by his alcohol dependence.

“A sober, reflective Patrick James has looked back on his behaviour and accepts that the behaviour was disgusting and despicable,” he said.

“When people are extremely drunk and affected by alcohol, they have to face the worst of themselves.

“The roots of his behaviour stem from alcohol misuse – he became almost alcohol dependent.”

Lancaster added that James’ wife and son, who has severe health issues, would be “severely impacted” if he were to go to prison.

Judge Bernadette Baxter sentenced Patrick James to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years. He will also have to pay £400 in court costs, have a six-month electronically monitored curfew and complete 20 days of rehabilitation for his alcoholism.

Baxter said: “It was a particularly mean and hateful offence, in the course of your actions you deliberately targeted a stained glass window you knew had great sentimental value to the congregation and wider community, and other electrical items such as a TV that significantly contributed to their enjoyment of it.

“It was a disgraceful offence. You ought to be thoroughly ashamed, I doubt you have that capacity, sir.

“You are a thoroughly selfish man and you have demonstrated that fact by your actions in that church.

“We are a democracy where people are entitled to live their lives by their choices without fear of hateful behaviour from prejudiced people like you.”