A FATHER of two told a Chester vicar that he needed to confess his sins – and then stole £100 from the church collection box.

Maciey Zielinski also successfully begged Revd David Chesters, from St John the Baptist’s Church, for money to pay for accommodation for him and his family that night.

It was only when the kind-hearted clergyman and his wife noticed money had disappeared from the vestry that they checked CCTV and recognised the culprit.

Zielinski, 39, pleaded guilty to the burglary and five other thefts during a hearing at Chester Magistrates Court today (Thursday, May 9).

These included taking a purse from an 87-year-old woman at Chester Cathedral and stealing from others in Wesley Methodist Church, the University of Chester campus and the Riverside Innovation Centre in the city.

A number of transactions were completed before the victims could contact their banks to report the stolen cards.

But the court heard that Zielinski had only turned to crime to pay for food and accommodation for his pregnant partner and two children who had been left homeless on the streets of Chester and Wrexham after he lost his job.

The case was sent to Chester Crown Court for sentencing next month and Zielinski was granted bail in the meantime, under curfew at a friend’s house in Vernon Street, Wrexham.

Outlining the facts of the burglary offence, prosecutor Rob Youds said Revd Chesters had been at the Vicars Lane church on March 7 this year.

“He says he was approached by the defendant who wanted to confess his sins to him,” Mr Youds told the court.

“He said he had run out of money and needed one more stay before travelling back to Poland with his family. Revd Chesters paid for the defendant to spend the night at the Travelodge in the city centre.”

However, soon after his wife noticed that the money box containing £100 had disappeared from the vestry and the pair checked the camera footage.

“The vicar identified him on CCTV going into the vestry and then going back towards the front with something under his top,” Mr Youds said.

Around the same time, Zielinski carried out thefts at the cathedral and other venues. He also admitted only paying for one of four nights at a B&B in Hoole.

He was arrested and made full admissions to the police in his interview.

“He said he felt he had no other option other than to steal in order to feed his family as he had just £34 a week in child benefits to survive,” Mr Youds said. “He had tried to find a job but was unsuccessful.”

Arguing for bail, Becky Hay, defending, said her client had faced tough times after losing his job with a family to provide for.

He had been in the UK for three years and had tried unsuccessfully to arrange Universal Credit three times.

She stressed the transactions carried out with stolen bank cards had been for basic items such as food, accommodation and clothing.

“The money hasn’t been used for luxury items,” she said. “It has been used to allow the family to survive on a day-to-day basis.

“He said he was actually thankful to be arrested as he had been waiting for this to catch up with him.”

The offences are too serious to be dealt with by magistrates and it will fall to a crown court judge to sentence Zielinski, who has no previous convictions.