Congregation praying for end to attacks on church

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ROCK-throwing vandals are being hunted after smashing almost a dozen windows at a church in the latest in a string of attacks.

&#149 Eleven windows were smashed at St Andrews Church over the weekend

The attack, at St Andrews Church on Main Street, Livingston, is believed to be the sixth or seventh similar incident in the past year.

It is thought a group of youths threw small rocks and stones at the church between Friday night and Saturday morning, breaking 11 windows.

Jim Pollock, who looks after the grounds, said it was not an isolated incident, although it was the worst act of vandalism yet.

He said: "We probably get it six or so times a year, but not normally to that extent.

"In the past they have also knocked slates off the roof, done small bits of graffiti and broken heaters. This time 11 windows were totally smashed, some of them had no glass left.

"Nobody ever sees who does it and although we have insurance it leads to a substantial cost. We were last hit only two months ago. The stained glass windows aren't damaged as they are protected by plastic sheets."

Although it is not known how many vandals threw stones at the property or who they are, Mr Pollock pointed out that a gang of youths often congregated near the area.

He said: "I'm assuming it'll be young people, which is rather sad for society. A lot of older people use the church and it is not nice for them to be putting up with this. And although the church might not mean much to young people now, they may find a need for it in future."

The shattered windows were discovered by two churchgoers on Saturday morning as they arrived to prepare the building for the following day's service. Police were informed and the church was fixed on Monday morning.

Deans North councillor Bruce Ferrie branded the latest incident a disgrace and appealed for help in tracking down the vandals.

He said: "This is a disgraceful, mindless act of vandalism within a small community.

"These vandals need to be rooted out and I would appeal to anyone in the community who witnessed anything to contact the police as a matter of urgency."

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "Police in West Lothian are appealing for witnesses after a church in Livingston was attacked by vandals at the weekend. A total of 11 windows were smashed at St Andrews Church in Main Street, in the Deans area, overnight from Friday into Saturday.

"Police are appealing to anyone who was in the area of Main Street who may have seen or heard anything suspicious to contact them on 0131-311 3131 or Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence on 0800-555 111."