Church organ vandal fails to silence music

Organ builder Jamie Lightoller examines the damage
Organ builder Jamie Lightoller examines the damage
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A HOODLUM has smashed up a church organ and poured beer into its pipes during a “mindless” spree of destruction.

The vandal stole more than a dozen metal organ pipes and bent another 46, leaving a £7500 repair bill in the wake of their rampage at Prestonkirk, in East Linton.

The damage left the church’s regular organist scrambling to find working keys when playing at the following Sunday service.

Two bottles of Budweiser beer – one of which was smashed – had been dumped in the bowels of the organ, while sheet music was strewn across the floor.

Forensic experts have scoured the crime scene and removed DNA samples from the bottles and fingerprints from the church door.

Reverend David Scott said he was grateful other “precious items” like the church font, sacramental vessels, and chancel furniture were untouched.

He added: “There’s all sorts of things in the church but nothing was touched apart from the organ.

“It was all focused on the organ chamber.”

Rev Scott suggested the culprits may have been drunk and attempted to play the organ before going “too far” and trying to destroy it.
“We realised someone had broken into the church, but we didn’t think there was any damage,” he said.

“But when we went into the organ chamber, we knew they had broken in there.

“When the organist came in to play on Sunday, he discovered that some keys weren’t working.

“He had to work round the keys which could be played.”

Rev Scott, who also preaches at nearby kirks in Stenton and Whittingehame, said it had been a “relief” nothing else was taken but the repair bill was steep for a small parish church.

“It’s not welcome news,” he said. “It’s out of character for East Linton.

“There has been a spate of break-ins to houses in outlying parts, but for people to break into a church in my experience is quite unusual.”

He described the police investigation as “excellent” and said the break-in appeared to be a “one-off incident”.

Police have appealed for information into the vandalism which took place between 11pm last Wednesday and 10.30am the following day.

Detectives have ruled out a motive of scrap metal theft.

Inspector Ian Mackay said: “This act of vandalism has caused significant damage to the church organ.

“Anyone with information that can assist our inquiries is asked to contact police on 101.”

Dunpender community councillor Allison Cosgrove, who lives at East Linton, said residents had been left “very shocked” by the incident.

“We very much hope that any culprits will be caught,” she said.

“We don’t often get vandalism in the church and it’s unusual in our village.

“The minister puts a lot of work into the village and it’s not very nice to think of someone doing this.”

In December, vandals daubed 666 – referred to as “the number of the beast” in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament – onto a wall of St Anne’s Episcopal Church in nearby Dunbar.