A METAL thief who stole tens of thousands of pounds worth of lead from Newstead Abbey — and sold it on for just £87 — has been jailed.
Gurshoron Bhattie, of Cornerpin Drive, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, pleaded guilty to theft and handling of lead from the historic abbey, which is the Dispatch district’s premier tourist attraction and the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron.
Bhattie targeted the world-renowned landmark in December last year.
The 24-year-old appeared at Nottingham Crown Court and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Bhattie was arrested following the discovery of some of the metal drainpipes from the Grade I-listed building at a scrap-metal dealer’s.
Police then traced the car used to weigh-in the metal back to Bhattie and this led to the further discovery of more of the stolen lead in his car and back garden.
Chief Insp Sean Anderson, of Nottinghamshire police, said: “Newstead Abbey is among countless listed buildings that will never be the same again thanks to the disrespectful actions of selfish individuals such as Gurshoron Bhattie.
“He essentially sold pieces of Nottinghamshire’s centuries-old history for £87 in scrap value.
“It was very costly for Nottingham City Council to replace the drain pipes. The cost to Nottinghamshire in terms of heritage and legacy is something we will be counting the cost of for centuries to come.”
Ken Purslow, chairman of the Newstead Abbey Byron Society (NABS), said: “First of all I am pleased that someone has been caught and even more pleased to hear he has been brought to justice.
“But the thing that it doesn’t do is put the lead back on the roof and replace the lead drainpipes.
“It is down to whether Nottingham City Council has the confidence to put them back or we have lost them forever.
“If it has done anything, this has reminded the city council that the abbey is in a vulnerable position and it needs full-time care to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Metal theft is a national issue, costing the economy millions of pounds each year.
In response to the number of metal thefts, Nottinghamshire police launched a metal-theft reduction team who work in partnership with neighbouring forces, the government and industry to deter, detect and reduce this type of crime.
Since April, there has been a 46% decrease in the number of reported metal thefts in Nottinghamshire compared to the same period in 2011.