TICKER: Burglar tries to hide in COFFIN next to a dead body when undertaker walks in during operation

A teenage burglar attempted to hide next to a dead body in a coffin when he was interrupted during a raid on a chapel.

Thief Kyle Kennelly, 18, ransacked the 150-year-old chapel in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, where the deceased was laying in rest the night before the funeral.

But the burglar was caught in the act when the undertaker Robert Protheroe arrived to begin his preparations for the service.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard how Kennelly tried to clamber into the casket to hide out with the corpse during the incident on June 22.

Prosecutor Rachel Knight said: ‘The coffin with the body in it was in the minister’s room and marks were on that coffin as if somebody had tried to get into it.’

Kennelly, who lived just 200 yards from the chapel, in Garth Newydd Court, Merthyr Tydfil  was traced by his DNA after police found a cigarette under the casket.

Speaking after the case, Mr Protheroe said: ‘It is disgusting that anyone could steal from a church while a body was there on the eve of a funeral.’

The court heard how Kennelly caused thousands of pounds of damage to the 150-year-old Tabernacle Chapel.

He kicked in a set of oak doors, ripped out copper piping and smashed up an antique organ.

The court heard the thief heard Mr Protheroe enter and tried to hide in the coffin – but he was unable to get it open.

The undertaker rushed into the room where the body was being kept and saw Kennelly’s hand on the smashed door.

Police found a cigarette under the casket which had traces of his DNA.

The court heard how after raiding the chapel Kennelly went on to steal a mobile phone from the home of a social worker.

Ms Knight said: ‘There had been an untidy search of all the rooms in the house.’

Kennelly has 10 court appearances for 19 offences including theft, handling stolen goods, taking a vehicle without consent, criminal damage and burglary.

Claire Wilks, defending, said: ‘He is thoroughly ashamed and disgusted with himself.’

He admitted burglary and theft and was sent to a young offenders’ institution for 28 months at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court.

Judge Richard Twomlow told him: ‘The damage to the occupied coffin showed a complete lack of respect in every way.’

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