Women arrested at church in St Andrews after ten ‘girl’ pupils gather

Update, 13:20 BST:

A spokesman for the church said these girls are not members of St John Bosco.

He said: “Sheriff Fleming has no need to hurt these innocent children. Such malicious attacks will not spoil the joy of the Catholic community for Christmas.”

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Before Monday’s serious incident:

Just before 7pm local time on Monday, St John Bosco Church on Granbury Road in St Andrews was evacuated by police after a woman came forward.

The woman, believed to be a member of the Catholic congregation, had called her sister who alerted police at the parish.

A statement on the church’s website said a locked package had been reported, which a Catholic member of the congregation had closed in a plastic bag and was inside her back garden.

It said: “She had left a sign in the garden that read ‘Thank you! for your bible donation to the work of Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Police responded to reports that there was a group of ten young girls who had gathered around the house who then asked to go in, along with the woman’s sister.

A search of the area proved unsuccessful and officers from the Tweed Valley local area command launched a search for the women.

But it was ultimately a woman reported as being in her 40s, believed to be a member of the parish, who was arrested, and has been detained on suspicion of aggravated burglary and using threatening words or behaviour.

A statement on the church’s website said: “It is with deep regret that we have to inform you of the disruption and departure from the Parish Church and Parish Home in Granbury Road, Nairn, at 6.40pm yesterday.

“There were 10 teenage girls who had gathered at the gates of the Cathedral grounds, looking for a mother in particular.

“The victim of the incident has told police that she had been very generous in giving a gift on behalf of her family to her sister on the day of the very important Christmas Eucharist. She was very appreciative for this kind gesture.

“She has also made a sign for her children on a ‘Thanks for your donation’ sign in her garden and they ran over to the house and asked if they could go in. This caused upset to her sister who believes this woman as a member of the parish is responsible for the incident.

“The Gardai went to a search of the area by helicopter and on the ground. There were no children.

“The woman has been detained on suspicion of aggravated burglary and using threatening words or behaviour. The investigation is continuing.

“The Church and Parish Home will open as normal tomorrow Wednesday August 2. Prayers are being said for the victim. She and her family would like to thank the police for their quick response and for preventing the incident going on longer.

“Please join us again at 8am to celebrate Easter morning Mass for April 7, and wish all those celebrating the First Good Friday a joyful Easter and a happy May. As always everyone is welcome at the Church. All volunteers are needed in our local cathedral. The church is open Monday-Thursday, 7.30-9.30am, 1pm-4pm and 5pm-6pm. The Chapel is open during the special Eucharist Service. There are no performances of the ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at the Church.

“The Sinfonia and choir, and the Holy Ghost choirs, are open every Sunday. Worship has been cancelled for Sunday for August 20, but everyone is welcome to join us next Sunday 9am. After the Church and Choral Mass are suspended until Monday morning, on the usual same times, Youth Mass will be held at 11am.”

Inspector Phil Smith, Police Scotland Divisional Corporate Director, said: “We are pleased to report that nothing unusual was found during our search, despite the initial alarm being raised at around 6.40pm, and we are satisfied the area is safe. The premises and the surrounding area are open and well used.”

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