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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 16:06 GMT
'Christian confession' over graves crime
 Karl Sartin
Sartin admitted to pushing over 40 to 50 tombstones
A devout Christian has been jailed for nine months after confessing to a 17-year-old crime of vandalising gravestones.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how 41-year-old Karl Sartin from Cardiff, felt so guilty for causing the damage that he had to tell the police.

But it was not until November 2003 that he finally admitted to the crime.

Judge John Powell said he would have been sentenced to three years if he had been caught in 1987.

The court heard how the hospital worker was walking home in Cardiff after drinking heavily with a friend.

They took a short cut through Cathays Cemetery in the city and his friend, who Sartin refused to name because he is now "well known and in a position of some responsibility", pushed over a headstone.

Sartin, who is from the St Mellons area of the city, then pushed over 40 to 50 tombstones. He vandalised 111 gravestones in all.
I deeply regret the grief and heartache I have caused
Karl Sartin

The damage, the court was told, was worth over 40,000 at 1987 prices.

The regular church goer who was baptised in 1996 felt so guilty that in November last year - 17 years later - he walked into a police station to confess to the long-forgotten crime.

In a statement read to the court the father-of-two said he wanted to offer his sincere apologies to the families involved.

"I have been living with the shame of this for many years and need to confess my guilt. I deeply regret the grief and heartache I have caused. I stand without excuse for what I did.

"It was a despicable act," he added.

Karl Williams, defending, said he would not be in the dock unless he had gone to the police station.

"The offence occurred at a time when he was going through a divorce at the age of 24," he told the court.

"It was a bitter experience and he had turned to drink. He was drinking 12 to 13 pints a night."

In his summing up, Judge John Powell QC said it was obvious that the crime had trouble Sartin but "only a custodial sentence" could be justified.

"I wish you well - you are a man today who presents in many respects a good example. You have confessed to a very serious offence and I take that it into account to reduce the sentence," he said.

"I hope when you emerge from prison you continue with the good life you have embarked upon."

Sartin admitted to criminal damage and was jailed for nine months.

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