A 42-YEAR-OLD alcoholic has been jailed for stealing an “invaluable” war memorial plaque from a Lewisham church.

Lana Clitheroe, aged 42, of Dundalk Road, Brockley appeared at Bromley Magistrates’ Court today (January 17), having pleaded guilty to theft by finding at an earlier hearing.

She appeared with 42-year-old Paul Kelly of Arlington Close, Ennerdale Road in Lewisham, who had also pleaded guilty to the same charge.

The court heard that Clitheroe and Kelly found the bronze plaque in a side street and CCTV footage showed the pair wheeling it around in a shopping trolley.

Prosecutor Denise Clewes told the court: “They presented the plaque at Sydenham Scrap Metals where they wanted to sell the item for scrap.”

They both laid the plaque face down on the scales and it weighed 44 kilos – a weight that would normally have expected to be worth £90 to £100.

However, the owner of the premises got suspicious and asked the pair to turn the plaque over. Upon realising what it was he sent them away.

On their way back from the scrap yard, Mr Kelly sold the plaque to a man in white van for £15.

Ms Clewes told the court that when she was arrested Clitheroe said, ‘I was there, but I was only helping’, and that Kelly had offered to buy her a few cans of beer in return for her help.

Bill Chipperfield, representing Clitheroe, told the court that she had been drinking since the age of 11 and has been alcohol dependent for most of her adult life. She was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the offence.

The plaque was stolen from St Mary the Virgin Church, Lewisham High Street, on October 19 and has still not been recovered.

It was one of two bearing the names soldiers who fell during the First World War and it is not yet known whether or the names can be recovered.

Sentencing Clitheroe, District Judge Julia Newton said: “The culpability of the defendant is high - no thought was given beyond raising money for alcohol.

“Her risk of re-offending is assessed as high.”

Clitheroe was sentenced to 120 days imprisonment, half of which is to be spent in custody, with the remainder to be served in the community.

Kelly was committed to Inner London Crown Court to be sentenced for this offence, and for a separate, riots-related burglary charge at a later date.