A THIEF who stole donations from a chapel on Christmas Day has avoided jail.

James Caldwell, 38, prowled St Brendan's in Glasgow's Yoker at the end of morning mass last December.

He then waited until it was quiet before swiping the money.

Caldwell was convicted last month at Glasgow Sheriff Court of theft after it emerged he was caught on CCTV.

A sheriff told him the evidence was “overwhelming".

Today, Monday October 21, Caldwell was put on a community payback order for a period of six months.

He was ordered to do the maximum sentence of 300 hours of unpaid work and given a restriction of liberty order.

Sheriff Antony Deutsch said: “This was a serious matter which you could have gone to jail for.

“If you breach this order you will be back before me and you will certainly go to prison”

A previous hearing showed footage of Caldwell, also of Yoker, slowly moving to a cupboard where donations were kept before fleeing.

James Gilchrist, 80, who collected the donations, said: “When I came back to get the money, it was gone and so was he.”

Mr Gilchrist did not know exactly how much cash was stolen.

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But, he told the court that St Brendan's raised £300 the previous week.

Sheriff Anthony Deutsch found Caldwell guilty.

He told Caldwell: “The evidence is overwhelming and you have not presented anything that causes me any reasonable doubt.”