THE man accused of trying to sell a 90-year-old war memorial plaque as scrap metal the day after it was stolen will face trial.
Michael Alan Coyle, 40, of Mellock Lane, Little Neston, denied the offence when he appeared at Chester, Ellesmere Port, and Neston Magistrates Court on Friday.
He stands accused of assisting in the removal or disposal of stolen property.
At trial, magistrates are expected to view CCTV footage which the Crown Prosecution Service says shows Coyle at KJ Bell Scrap Metal merchants, Cedab Road, Ellesmere Port.
In the recording, a man is seen trying to sell an object – which appears similar to the missing plaque – at about 9.30am on July 30, the morning after the theft. They also allege Coyle’s car can be seen there in another clip.
Sue Gibson, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was identified by the owner of the scrapyard as the man who tried to sell him it.
“It had a £180 scrap value but its sentimental value to the church is obviously far greater.”
War veteran Fred Chapman, 90, president of the Willaston-in-Wirral Royal British Legion branch, says it will cost about £7,000 to replace.
Pupils of Willaston CE Primary School are making a temporary list of the war dead so that one can be displayed on Remembrance Sunday.
Cheshire Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Ruth Purdie said: “Criminal behaviour and soaring metal prices during the economic downturn has seen incidents of churches stripped of lead and war memorials desecrated in our area.”
Coyle has been bailed to return to Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston Magistrates Court on December 8 for a trial, on the condition that he does not enter a scrap-metal dealer’s yard or premises in England or Wales for any reason.