Big Repair Job Awaits Abbey After Vandalism

From Times Wire Services

A "mammoth task" of reconstruction faces Britain's historic Waltham Abbey after a vandal wielding a pair of hatchets rampaged through it, beheading religious statues, shattering a stained glass window and smashing a pulpit and its organ.

Damage to the abbey, reputed to be the burial site of England's 11th century King Harold, was estimated at more than $300,000. A 47-year-old man identified as Martin Miles was charged with 11 counts ranging from assault on two men he injured to criminal damage and possession of an ax.

Canon Martin Webster said there were about a half-dozen worshippers and staff members inside Waltham Abbey when the attacker, fresh from battering cars and people in the streets and a pub in the town, burst into the building and "ran amok."

No reason for the attack could be determined immediately by authorities. "He was clearly in an agitated state, but quite determined," Webster said.

When he was finally subdued by police hurling tear gas grenades, the man said simply, "I'm sorry about that."

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