'Come and ask for help - don't spray paint our church' Priest reaches out after vandal attack on Sunderland chapel

A priest has urged vandals who attacked his church by spray painting graffiti to seek help after leaving slogans across one of its walls.

The phrases 'Help God please' and 'We been cloned' were found daubed in blue paint inside a stairwell of St Mary's RC Church in Bridge Street, Sunderland.

It follows on from a similar incident a few weeks ago, when the word 'Help' was painted on the doors of the city centre church.

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Father Marc Lyden-Smith, who leads the parish of St Mary's and St Cecilia's, believes the writing is the same as that which appeared around the Plains Farm area last month.

It also included the words 'Help me.'

Seven homes across the estate, including those in Durham Road, Scruton Avenue and Sacriston Avenue, were targeted using yellow spray paint.

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The graffiti left inside the church on Sunday afternoon was quickly painted over by a team of volunteers.

Fr Marc said: "St Mary's is a place that is available for all people.

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"We have lots of asylum seekers and refugees, homeless people and people who have had relationship breakdowns and those who need food or emotional support.

"But please, if you need help, please don't spray paint our church.

"This has happened a couple of times now.

"People are disgusted by it, but it's also been nice because we have had a lot of messages from people on Facebook just saying the parish of St Mary's does a lot of good work and outreach to the most vulnerable and that they are sad to see this happen to a beautiful building in the city centre.

"There have been a lot of positive comments from people, not just from Catholics but others who see we are trying to do good work."

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Inspector Marie Pollock, of Northumbria Police, said: “Intentional acts of criminal damage are totally unacceptable and we will look to take appropriate action against anybody found responsible.

“We would always encourage victims of crime to come forward and report incidents to police.

"Anybody with information regarding any of the recent reports of graffiti are asked to call 101.”

Last month, as it appealed for witnesses, the force urged anyone who needed help to get in touch so they can be offered the support they need.