Father and son who burgled fifteen churches in Southport and West Lancs jailed

Notorious thieves Gregory Hawkshaw and his son Danny Hawkshaw left trail of destruction

Gregory Hawkshaw (left) and son Danny Hawkshaw (right) admitted burgling 12 churches across Southport and West Lancashire

Gregory Hawkshaw (left) and son Danny Hawkshaw (right) admitted burgling 12 churches across Southport and West Lancashire

A father and son burglary team who ransacked fifteen places of worship have been jailed over their disgraceful spree.

Shameless Gregory Hawkshaw, 45, and Danny Hawkshaw, 23, left a trail of destruction in overnight raids across Southport and West Lancashire.

The drug addicts targeted churches across Ainsdale, Southport and Scarisbrick, making off with hundreds of pounds in cash, laptops, projectors and televisions.

When the pair were set to be sentenced last November, Danny – who was on bail – failed to attend Liverpool Crown Court.

Meanwhile Gregory, of no fixed address, brazenly requested a deferred sentence, claiming he could retrieve some of the stolen goods.

His son, of Sandbrook Road, Ainsdale, went on the run, living in a tent in Preston, and was not caught by police until Christmas Eve.

Today Judge Robert Warnock said some of the kind-hearted parishioners from the churches had offered the pair forgiveness.

But jailing them both, he said: “This was invasion of these places of worship. I owe a public duty in respect of these matters.”

The pair were caught when blood matching Gregory’s DNA was recovered from the scene of one of the burglaries.

They admitted burgling Ainsdale Methodist Church in Liverpool Road overnight on September 30, stealing two laptops and a projector.

Paul Becker, prosecuting, said they broke their way in using a fire extinguisher, took the CCTV hard drive and smashed a window.

The duo also admitted raiding St John’s Anglican Church, also in Liverpool Road, on October 10, when they took a £300 laptop.

A vestry door was pulled completely off its hinges and they caused an estimated £1,000 of damage.

Mr Becker said they confessed to 13 other break-ins, which were to be taken into account. These included raids on:

St Mark’s Church in Southport Road, Scarisbrick, where £400 of cash was taken
St James’ Church in Lulworth Road, Birkdale, where a TV, laptop and cash worth £1,380 were taken
St Peter’s Church in St Peter’s Road, Birkdale, where a projector and two laptops were stolen
Lord Street West United Reformed Church, Southport, where £30 in cash and a laptop was taken
St John’s Church in Rufford Road, Crossens, Southport, where a laptop and projector were taken

Gregory, formerly of Bank Street North in Southport, was first convicted of burglary when he was just 11-years-old.

He was locked up after stealing two expensive mountain bikes from a Southport garage with his son in December 2013.

The dad had the gall to claim he only struck at the garage – and four other homes – to try to pay off his cannabis smoking son’s drug debts.

On that occasion, Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, said: “You commit offences because you are an inherently dishonest man who was burgling houses and sheds years before your son was born.”

Rebecca Smith, defending Gregory, admitted his record was “appalling” and said he was trapped in a “vicious cycle of drug addiction and offending to facilitate that addiction”.

Nicholas Archer, defending Danny, said it was “very sad” to see a father and son before the court, but his client did not seek to blame anyone else.

He said: “He feels he’s let himself down and it’s safe to say he feels let down by his upbringing, but he accepts he is the author of his own misfortune.”

Judge Warnock said Gregory’s record was “disgraceful”, adding: “You too Danny Hawkshaw have started off in the same way as your father.”

He jailed Gregory for four years and Danny for three years, plus three consecutive months for “running away from what you knew you were going to face”dh

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