St. Hubert Catholic Church burglar enters guilty plea

COUPEVILLE — He was ready for his punishment. But Craig Firth, one of the men who was caught vandalizing St. Hubert Catholic Church, has to wait a week.

Firth, 19, and Sean McLaughlin, 26, broke into the Langley church in a drunken rage and trashed the inside of the building during the finale of a late-night crime spree through town in May.

Even though Firth pled guilty to two counts of second-degree burglary Monday in Island County Superior Court, the judge delayed his sentencing another week. The reason was a mix-up in scheduling.

Father Rick Spicer of St. Hubert’s was under the impression that the hearing wouldn’t happen until July 7, said Colleen Kenimond, chief criminal deputy prosecutor. Therefore, he wasn’t present. Usually, the victim of the crime has a chance to address the court before judgement is passed.

Kenimond asked for sentencing to be delayed a week.

Firth’s lawyer, Darren Hall, said his client should be sentenced right away.

“I have no recollection of ever agreeing to July 7,” he said. “We had this agreement to plead guilty almost since the arraignment.”

Firth stood before the judge handcuffed, in an orange jail uniform, absent of any facial expression as he waited for the judge’s decision.

Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock sided with the prosecution.

“Victim’s have a right to be present,” Hancock said. “I think it is necessary to continue sentencing for one week.”

Firth is looking at 51 to 68 months in prison on the burglary charges. The prison term takes into account prior convictions, prosecution staff said.

Firth and McLaughlin were caught during a crime spree through Langley on May 2. The men broke into The Braeburn restaurant on Second Street and stole bottles of wine. Then they moved to the church on Third Street where they broke into two separate buildings and caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

They broke the big glass bowl that held the holy water, they tipped over the organ and then they got into the sacristy and threw items on the ground and damaged an incenser.

They also smashed some of the stolen wine bottles inside the church and broke windows and doors.

After that, Firth and McLaughlin entered an adjacent classroom building through a window and continued their path of destruction.

Neighbors were awakened by the noise at the church, called police and officers caught the men redhanded.

McLaughlin is scheduled for a readiness hearing in court on July 7. Workers in the prosecutor’s office said there is no indication that McLaughlin is also planning to plead guilty.

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