“Laughing Boy” thief escapes jail after scaling Sunderland Minster in a bid to steal lightning conductor

Daniel Sayers

Daniel Sayers

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Daniel Sayers, 28, earned his nickname for the way he sniggered in front of magistrates whenever he appeared in the dock.

Sayers, pictured bottom right, who has been arrested more than 150 times, was back in court yesterday, but still avoided a custodial sentence.

Last November, Sayers was back in action, disturbing the morning prayers of the Reverend Martin Anderson, who was inside Sunderland Minster.

When the priest heard a noise, he went outside to investigate and saw Sayers trying to get his hands on the copper conductor at the top of the minister.

The vicar’s appearance startled the yob, who fled empty-handed.

Prosecutor Debbie Breen told Newcastle Crown Court: “He attempted to steal the lightning conductor.

“The priest disturbed the defendant, who was on the roof trying to remove the item. When the priest interrupted him he made off.”

Speaking just after the incident, Rev Anderson said: “When I saw him, he was about eight or 10 feet up, pulling away at the lightning conductor.

“He jumped down straight away and brushed past me. He grabbed his mountain bike and then sped off.”

Sayers, of Westbourne Road, Sunderland, admitted attempted theft.

The serial criminal was given a suspended 12 month prison sentence with a drug rehabilitation order for the offence when he appeared in court in February.

But just three days later he appeared, he was again caught stealing £70 worth of perfume from Superdrug in the Bridges shopping centre.

And just three days after that he was caught stealing scrap metal from a derelict house he burgled at Hendon Valley Road.

Sayers admitted theft and burglary and was remanded in custody then brought back to court to be sentenced yesterday.

Mr Recorder Jeremy Freedman said in normal circumstances the suspended 12 month prison sentence would be activated.

But the judge added: “The reality is he had not actually embarked upon the drug rehabilitation order therefore no work had been done with him.

“The best course of action is to allow him to embark on the drug programme.

“This is his very last chance.”

The judge sentenced Sayers to a three month night time curfew to run alongside the existing suspended sentence and drug programme.

Paul Cross, defending, said he accepted lead theft is “prevalent and obviously serious”.

But he said Sayers has spent very little time out of custody since the age of 15 and is unlikely to stop offending until he kicks his drugs habit.