Charity box thief jailed

PUBLISHED: 09:42 15 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:16 15 January 2014

Exeter Magistrates Court

Exeter Magistrates Court

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A man who stole charity collection boxes in Honiton to pay for legal highs has been jailed for 12 weeks.

A man who stole charity collection boxes in Honiton to pay for legal highs has been jailed for 12 weeks.

Jobias Button, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to two theft offences when he appeared, in custody, at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The 37-year-old also admitted to further thefts of charity boxes, which were taken into account by the court.

Lindsey Baker, prosecuting, said the first offence occurred on December 30, 2013. The defendant entered TRIP Community Transport Association in New Street some time between 11am and 2pm. He returned later at around 3pm and told staff he was interested in becoming a volunteer.

A member of staff then went to get the appropriate forms but was distracted by a phone call. Button then left the shop and shortly after the money, which has been estimated to be in the region of £120, was found to be missing.

The court heard the second offence occurred on January 6 when Button stole a charity box belonging to Honiton Hospital League of Friends, which was located at the hospital. He had an appointment that day around the time of the theft, magistrates heard.

Miss Baker said the defendant pleaded guilty when interviewed by police and said he spent the money stolen from the charity boxes on legal highs.

Peter Seigne, defending, told the court that when Button was released from prison – the time spent in custody had resulted in him losing his flat in Yeovil and he subsequently came to Devon where he was sleeping rough in a church door way in Honiton. He said the defendant also was unable to find work.

He added: “He is ashamed of what he did and sorry he stolen from charity boxes. He saw it as an opportunity to purchase food and legal highs and take the edge off the fact that he was frequently wet, hungry and cold. Sadly he welcomes prison and having somewhere warm and dry and having three meals a day.”

Button, who was in breach of a suspended sentence, had his four week sentence activated. A further eightfour weeks in prison for each of the two theft offences was added.

The 12 week sentence will run consecutively and no order was made for compensation.

Speaking after the sentencing Sergeant Jim Humphrey, of Honiton’s neighbourhood policing team, said: “This particular type of crime causes a great deal of concern within the community and it is reassuring to see that the courts view this offending worthy of an immediate custodial sentence.

“Stealing charity boxes cannot be justified under any circumstances and this does send a message that it will be dealt with swiftly and robustly”.

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