A VICAR’S son who stole a “priceless” bottle of whisky signed by former Hibernian Football Club legends during a burglary at a widow’s home has been jailed.

Shane Holden, 35, of Tudor Road, Westcliff, took the bottle- which was to be bequeathed to the woman’s son- from a house in North Avenue, Southend, on June 15.

Basildon Crown Court heard Holden had spent the day knocking on doors in the street asking if his ‘friend’ was in, before finding an empty property.

He then broke in, cutting himself as he did so and leaving a trail of blood that later led to him being identified by his DNA.

The heroin addict made off with a Samsung Galaxy tablet, a black leather jewellery box, five Xbox games, and a watch worth a total of £1,000.

But it was the theft of the bottle, signed by the Scottish football legends Pat Stanton, Lawrie Reilly and Willie Ormond, that had the most devastating impact.

Karen Dempsey, prosecuting, read a victim impact statement from the widow’s son, which said: “I have got no doubt that this meant nothing to the man who took it, perhaps except for the price of drinking whisky.

“But it was priceless to this family and nothing could replace it.”

The widow’s statement said: “It was given to my late husband of 20 years. It featured a photo of Hibs from the 70s and was signed by some of his favourite heroes.”


Pat Stanton, right, was a Hibs fan who would go on to become a feted player

Pat Stanton was part of the club’s 1972 League Cup-winning side and a Scottish international, who played 16 times for his country between 1966 and 1974 and also went on to manage the club.

Lawrie Reilly is still regarded as one of Scottish football’s greatest ever forwards, scoring 185 goals in 253 appearances for the club as one of the club’s ‘Famous Five’ forward line in the 1940s and 1950s.

Willie Ormond was another of the Famous Five and spent 15 years at Hibs, returning to manage them in 1980, four years before his death.

The court heard although Holden now admits the offence he has no memory of the day and told police when arrested: “I don’t do burglaries.”

Miss Dempsey said as well as being devastated by the loss of the bottle and other sentimental items of jewellery, the widow was disturbed by blood found in the house.

She said: “Her statement says that she suffers from depression and anxiety and is receiving treatment for that condition.

“She had to bleach the sheets on her bed and change the sheets because of the blood.

“Some of the items belonged to her husband, who passed away eight years ago. They cannot be replaced and were of great sentimental value. For that, she has suffered a great deal of distress.”


Lawrie Reilly scores one of his six goals against England

Lucy Sweetland, mitigating, said Holden came from a good family and his mother was a vicar, but he had fallen into crime because of drug addiction.

She said: “He is acutely aware of the distress he has caused the victim.”

Miss Sweetland asked for Holden to be given another chance but Judge David Pugh said his 22 previous convictions for 40 offences counted against him.

He said: “There is greater harm in that there was the loss of items of sentimental value, but I am not satisfied that the degree of premeditation was significant in this case.”

He added: “You have a history of failing to comply with court orders. Unfortunately that history catches up with you today.”

Holden was jailed for 12 months for the burglary and an additional one month for failing to turn up to a previous hearing.