A FORMER pupil climbed to the roof of a disused sixth form building to steal lead which he sold to fund his gambling addiction.

Prolific thief John Humphreys, who has a string of previous convictions for dishonesty offences, broke into the Grange in Hall Lane, Dovercourt, which was formerly used as the Harwich and Dovercourt High School’s sixth form centre.

Once inside, he did not steal anything, but scaled the roof of the building to take three metres of lead which he sold at a scrap dealership.

Humphreys, 29, was caught on CCTV and the school’s site manager, another former Harwich and Dovercourt High School pupil, recognised him as somebody he knew from their time at the school.

Tess Man, prosecuting at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Monday, said: “An amount of lead was taken from the now disused Grange which had been taken from the guttering above the main entrance.

“There is CCTV coverage of the exterior of the building showing him scaling up the building several times.

“After he was arrested he admitted it was him in the shots.

“He said he took the lead and sold it to a scrap dealer for a minimal amount of money.”

The school had to pay a £500 insurance excess to fix the roof.

Humphreys, of Clayton Road, Ramsey, admitted burgling with intent to steal and theft.

Mark Pearson, mitigating said: “He accepts it was him and he knew of other people who had been stealing lead from the roof.

“He parked his car up and stole it but he cannot remember how much he got.

“At the time he was gambling very heavily and kept getting into debt.”

Since the offences in March, Humphreys has served a six month jail spell for theft.

For these offences magistrates handed him 200 hours of unpaid work.

He must also pay £500 compensation to the school to cover their insurance, court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £85.