A HOMELESS man from Bromsgrove betrayed the trust of a congregation, who had helped him, when he stole from their church.

A vicar has said it is ' very sad' Vojtech Ziga stole from his church, despite members helping him with money.

Ziga, 25 pleaded guilty to stealing items from two churches in Worcester and Kempsey, and was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for two years.

Reverend Mark Badger of St Mary's Church, Kempsey said: "We did try to help him, we helped him out with train fares and some other funds. Unfortunately he did do some things around the village. It is very sad, being that we tried to help him.

"We would never ban anyone from our church. It is there for when people need it. Our churches are open every day for the community."

Shafquat Reaz, prosecuting, said of the burglary at St Mary's Church, on April 28, 2018 : "The victim has left her items in her bag; trousers, top and shoes. In the morning she returned to find the contents of the bag were missing, and the bag was missing. The items were strewn over the room. On CCTV he was seen leaving the church with the bag on his back."

Mr Reaz told the court that during a second theft on November 11 2018, Ziga of Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove entered St Martin's Church, Worcester and went into a restricted area of the church, opposite the organ where a number of drums were kept. Mr Reaz said: "It was here that a small drum valued £269 was missing. Again CCTV was checked and the defendant was identified."

Mr Reaz said Ziga who regularly attends church, was known to both churches, and they have had problems with him asking members of the congregation for money in the past, adding: "Usually churches are charities, with limited funds and resources."

Kam Shargill, defending said: "At the time the offences were committed he was homeless. He had lost his identification card and was unable to secure employment. Since then he has a job, he has a flat and is in a relationship. A lot has changed for him. He has not informed me of any alcohol or drug issues, it was the homelessness that led to the offences."

In addition to his custodial sentence Ziga was given a suspended sentence for two years. He was ordered to pay £269 compensation to St Martin's Church and he is banned, for two years from entering Worcester City centre, Kempsey, the Hive in Worcester, Worcester Cathedral or its grounds, and St George’s Church, Sansome Place, Worcester. A criminal behaviour order also prevents him from refusing to leave a premise or area forming part of a premise when asked, by someone who has the authority to do so.

PC Catherine Broadfield said: "We have successfully placed a CBO banning Mr Ziga from Worcester City Centre and Kempsey. This was granted after a series of incidents including persistent begging, anti-social behaviour and the two burglaries.

"I hope the conviction and CBO provides reassurance to local retailers and local residents that police will take positive action to make our communities safer."

Members of the public are encouraged to report any breaches of the orders to West Mercia Police on 101.

The case was heard at Worcester Magistrates Court on Thursday July 4.