Arrests made after St Helens church robbery

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Police say they have arrested two men in relation to a desperate robbery of a St Helens church days before Christmas.

Merseyside Police say the pair aged 27 and 34 from the St Helens area have been arrested in relation to the robbery at Vincent de Paul Church on Tuesday teatime.

The men have been taken to a police station where they will be questioned by detectives.

Fr Peter Hannah, of Vincent de Paul Church, was attacked by three masked men - one of whom was brandishing a gun - and forced to hand over cash raised by the church for an orphanage in Zimbabwe.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Liverpool said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Father Peter Hannah who was not injured but left shaken by the events of yesterday evening.”

Det Sgt Chris Burrows, from St Helens CID, said: “I am sure the people of St Helens will be shocked and saddened to discover the church has been targeted in this way.

“It is a focal point for many in our community, particularly at this time of year, and it is heart-breaking to think the offenders have taken money which we understand was a charitable collection intended for a children’s orphanage.

“While he was thankfully not injured this would have been a very frightening incident for the priest.

“I would like to reassure people who live locally that we are doing everything we can to trace the offenders. Religious leaders provide an invaluable service in our local communities and I would urge anyone who lives locally and has any information which could help us with our enquiries to call us.”

Police say they have been looking through CCTV of the incident. Witnesses should call St Helens CID on 0151 777 6811.