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Home   Sittingbourne   News   Article

'Coward' thief hunted after stealing war medals from veteran Leslie Stelfox aged 100 from Milton Regis home

22 March 2014
by Hayley Robinson

Police branded the crime "despicable" and said the thief was a "coward" who "clearly lacks any respect for their community". 

Centenarian Leslie Stelfox's outside his Milton Regis home

Centenarian Leslie Stelfox's outside his Milton Regis home

Now Mark, of Brier Road in Sittingbourne, has put up the reward, in the hope the criminals can be caught and convicted.

He said: "They are scumbags. They're beyond scum.

"I just think if you see someone's photos in their home with the medals, to totally disregard them to steal someone's property is terrible.

"He is a 100-year-old man who has fought for his country!

"If the medals could just be left somewhere that would be great."

Mark said the family had pulled out all the stops since the theft.

War medals stolen from Leslie Stelfox's Milton Regis home

War medals stolen from Leslie Stelfox's Milton Regis home

They had contacted all local dealers, in the hope they had been offered the medals.

They have also posted appeals on Facebook and Twitter, which had been seen by thousands of people.

It's believed the theft happened sometime between 6.40pm and 8.40pm on Tuesday.

Widower Mr Stelfox, who served with the Cheshire Regiment, said: "I opened the front door and saw the cabinet door was open and I wondered 'how did that happen?'

"I'm annoyed about it happening. I would kill them if I could in the way I killed hundreds of people..." - Leslie Stelfox

"I went into the living room area and I could see someone had been in the flat.

"Then I went into the bedroom where I found stuff lying on the floor where the drawers had been emptied out.

"They took six of my medals and five that were my dad's. They stole a watch off the dining room table, about £300 or £400 which was in a box, a 1917 Russian silver half ruble coin, some 50p pieces that I collected over the last 50 years, some tuppenny pieces and about £15 worth of loose change off the sideboard.

"I'm pretty sure they came through the door as there are some marks down the side of it.

"I'm annoyed about it happening. I would kill them if I could in the way I killed hundreds of people. I could be dead today at my age.

"In the 1930s those caught doing this, their punishment was to join the forces."

The medals taken were: General Service for Palestine 1938; the 1945 Star; General Service 1936-1938; Italian Star 1939-1945; North Africa Star 1939-1945 and General Service 1939-1945.

Leslie Stelfox joined the British Army in 1931

Leslie Stelfox joined the British Army in 1931

Those belonging to his late father Arthur Stelfox were: three 1914 campaign medals, one for long service and a special one relating to HMS Swift which would have been awarded for either saving the ship or someone's life.

He added: "I would like to get them back. I was going to give them to my two nephews."

Those responsible for taking the medals have been blasted by the son of a man who was saved by Mr Stelfox during the Second World War.

Peter Kearnes' father, who was also called Leslie, suffered stomach injuries after a stick grenade was thrown in the river he and his comrades were standing in shortly after landing in Salerno near Naples, Italy.

Mr Stelfox shot dead the German soldier who threw it then managed to persuade another two to carry Mr Kearnes to a nearby beach so he could receive treatment on board a medical boat.

The 66-year-old, of Church Road, Eastchurch, said: "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him. I think the person or people responsible are lowlifes."

Veteran Leslie Stelfox pictured during his Army years

Veteran Leslie Stelfox pictured during his Army years

DCI Ann Lisseman, from Kent Police, said: "The person who committed this despicable crime is a coward and clearly lacks any respect for their community. 

"These medals mean a great deal to the victim and my officers are doing all they can and using all the tools at their disposal to track down the offender.
"We have already executed a number of warrants and intend to continue to do so, as well as pursuing other lines of enquiry. 
"I know the community will feel as strongly as we do that the person or people who committed this offence need to be caught and brought to justice. We ask that members of the public come forward with any information.'"
DCI Ann Lisseman

DCI Ann Lisseman

Witnesses or anyone with information is asked to phone police on 101, quoting crime reference XY/9928/14, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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