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UK News

Priest left 'terrified' after being punched, threatened with garden hoe

by Will Maule

A Welsh priest has said he was left "terrified and shaking" after being punched and threatened with a gardening tool.

Fr Charles Ramsay, 72, was attacked after Ryan Thomas Patrick Kelly and his partner Natalie Jane Jones broke into the grounds of St Mary's Church, Rhyl, on 2nd June.

A "verbal altercation" occurred, the Llandudno Magistrates Court heard, before the priest was attacked by Kelly. 

Prosecutor Callum Ross described the incident, which took place while Fr Charles was at home.

"He was upstairs and getting ready to go to bed when he looked out of the window and saw a torchlight in the church grounds," said Mr Ross, according to North Wales Live.

"He went outside to investigate." 

Fr Ramsay said he was "familiar" with his attackers after they became homeless and their cats took up residence in the church grounds. Ross said that after the pair entered the premises, "there was an altercation in that Father Ramsay asked the defendants to leave the (grounds) but they were unwilling".

The altercation then escalated, with Fr Ramsay taking the couple's iPad tablet, and Jones snatching the priest's glasses off his face before "snapping them in half and throwing them over the wall of the church grounds".

"Mr Kelly demanded to know what his problem was," Ross added. As Ramsay walked away, Kelly punched him in the back. 

He then picked up a garden hoe and shouted and swore at Father Ramsay, who then immediately called the police.

The prosecutor added: "There was a threatened use of a weapon - namely the garden hoe". 

In his victim impact statement, Fr Ramsay said he was "terrified". 

"I tried to keep my inner peace so I didn't do anything stupid," he added. “I was shaking as I walked back to the house and I was holding my back as it was very painful.”

Kelly was sentenced 16 weeks in jail, along with a 12 months post-sentence supervision period. Jones was ordered to complete 40 hours of unpaid work during her community order, and pay £350 compensation for snapping Ramsay's glasses.

Both defendants were issued with 12-month restraining orders and are prohibited from contacting Fr Ramsay or entering St Mary’s Church grounds.

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