Two teenagers who burgled a synagogue and stole the keys to a congregant’s car have been ordered to spend four months in a young offenders’ institute.
David Gutweith, 18, and Uriel Broder, 19, entered the Beth Shmuel Synagogue in Golders Green, north west London, and rifled through lockers.
They took the car keys and gave them to an accomplice, who is 17 and cannot be named because of his age. The third teenager arranged for the car to be sold to a man in Reading following the incident in the early hours of June 30.
Gutweith later told his brother what they had done and went back to Reading to buy back the vehicle and return it to its owner. All three teenagers are from Orthodox Jewish families.
District Judge Denis Brennan said Gutweith, of Woodstock Avenue, Golders Green, and Broder, of Golders Rise, Hendon, had “deliberately planned and carried out the violation of the sanctity of a holy place”.
During a hearing at Hendon Magistrates’ Court last Thursday, Gutweith laughed and shook his head when a prosecution lawyer mispronounced Hebrew words while informing the court of the pair’s criminal activity.
Broder’s lawyer Darryl Ingram said his client was “a young man who has expressed great remorse for what happened. He deeply regrets it. He got involved in the spur of the moment”.
He said Broder had previously studied in Israel and would like to again, despite his conviction.
Gutweith told the court: “I handed myself in the day after it happened after I realised that what I had done was really wrong. My brother drove me to the police station. I said I was really sorry for what I had done. I regret it 100 per cent. Handing myself in was the best thing I could do.”
But District Judge Brennan said the burglary had taken place at “a holy place that is one of worship, where people go to contemplate, to think, to ask for forgiveness, to hope and to pray.
“It does not matter whether it’s a temple, a church, a mosque or a synagogue. It must have had an enormous effect not only on the man whose car was taken, but also on the users of the synagogue.
“When they heard that there had been a burglary at the synagogue and their personal possessions, including prayer books, had been gone through, I cannot imagine how they would have felt, but they must have been traumatised.”
He said the seriousness of the “joint enterprise” meant a custodial service was the most appropriate penalty. Each of the teenagers must spend 16 weeks in the young offenders’ institute.
The 17-year-old had pleaded guilty to the same burglary charge, and an additional one of theft of a car, at an earlier court hearing. He was sentenced to undertake a six-month rehabilitation order, a night-time curfew for three months and ordered to pay £85 costs.