A PENSIONER who burgled two churches was caught when he dropped a cigarette butt at the scene of the crime.

Nicholas Spidy, of Britannia Crescent, Wivenhoe, stole a Queen Elizabeth I coat of arms and a brass ewer from a church in Middleton, near Sudbury, between March 13 and 15 to supplement his Army pension.

But Essex Police discovered a cigarette butt at All Saints Church and sent it away for DNA analysis, which came back a match for Spidy.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday officers put a call out for his car on the ANPR system so CCTV cameras would recognise it.

They picked it up less than a month later when other items stolen from a church in Dunmow were discovered in the back.

Philip Pearson, prosecuting, said: “Police pulled him over on the A120 and those items were recovered.

“Spidy was arrested and he initially admitted the burglary at Dunmow but denied that at Middleton. When DNA evidence was produced he made full admissions.

“He said the items from the Middleton church were sold at Needham Market.”

The court heard the items from the first burglary were not able to be recovered and their value was not known.

Spidy, 73, served in the Army for 22 years and carried out garden and house work to supplement his pension of £467 a month, which the court heard was insubstantial for him and his wife to live on.

However, due to old age he had been unable to carry out the arduous work.

Caroline Osborne, mitigating, said instead Spidy had taken to burgling churches, hitting several in Norfolk last year before being caught, as they are “insured and easy to get into”. She said: “He had never been before the court until he was 72.

“He now finds himself before you again and is thoroughly ashamed. These are totally unpleasant crimes. He finds himself with £50 a week to live on after everything, to feed and clothe himself and his wife.

“He has gone to churches because their doors are open and it’s not necessary to use doors or threat but he knows he can’t continue to do this.

“The money situation has not been sorted but he will not be appearing before the court again.”

Spidy was ordered to pay £250 compensation to All Saints Church, £170 costs. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.