A thug found with silverware worth £25,000 stolen from St Luke’s Church at Linch has had his sentence cut by top judges in London.
Michael Anthony Buisson, 23, was found with chalices, collection plates and goblets which had been taken from church.
The landscape gardener, of Hill View, East Meon, near Petersfield, was jailed for 18 months in March after he admitted theft by finding, handling stolen goods and failing to surrender to bail, and was convicted of a count of common assault.
But his lawyers claimed the judge had treated him as if he had carried out the contemptible thefts from the church, when he had only ‘found the silverware in a caravan’.
Three judges, sitting at the Court of Appeal, ruled that, because the prosecution had accepted the truth of Buisson’s account, his prison term should be cut to 15 months.
Lord Justice Jackson told the court police were called to Buisson’s former home in Bordon in November last year, where he was demanding his one-time housemate Laura Hayes let him in.
The judge said that, during the row, Buisson punched and kicked Miss Hayes, causing a bump to her head and bruising, before she managed to phone her father and the police.
Buisson was arrested and when police searched his room, they found the stolen church silverware in a cupboard covered in his clothes.
Buisson, who had 18 previous convictions, claimed he found the church silverware in a caravan in a lay-by and had bought the tools at a car-boot sale.
These explanations were accepted by prosecutors in court.
Buisson denied hitting Miss Hayes but was eventually convicted of the assault and jailed for 18 months.