Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Man jailed for poppy money theft

Poppy
Customers at the shop had raised about £50 for wounded soliders

A thief who stole a poppy appeal collection for wounded soldiers has been jailed for four months.

Heroin addict Matthew Hands told a sheriff he wanted to go to jail for what he had done.

Perth Sheriff Court heard that the large glass bottle was almost full and probably contained about £50 for Poppyscotland when Hands took it.

Police caught up with Hands after he was spotted on CCTV reaching onto the counter and taking the bottle.

At first, Hands denied knowing anything, but then he admitted committing the offence, saying he was "out of his face".

Solicitor Paul Ralph, defending, said Hands had slipped back into a serious heroin habit after an anti-drug implant paid for by his parents had failed.

The implant is supposed to cause an allergic reaction when heroin is abused.

Mr Ralph told the court that Hands had been out of trouble for three years after meeting a girl and having a baby with her.

I regard that as nasty, to steal a charity box that way - especially at this time of year and that kind of charity
Sheriff Michael Fletcher

However, he had slumped back into abusing heroin after his partner died from a severe asthma attack, the court was told.

Mr Ralph said: "That doesn't excuse anything but it places the slip back into some kind of light. He is back in the grips of a full-blown habit.

"The evil of the heroin is driving him to commit such low crimes as this one."

Sheriff Michael Fletcher noted: "The social inquiry report says he would prefer a custodial sentence. Maybe he's right that a period outwith the community would help for a start."

He added: "You have said to the social worker that a custodial sentence is something appropriate.

"It is certainly appropriate for that offence because I regard that as nasty, to steal a charity box that way - especially at this time of year and that kind of charity."

Hands, from Perth, also admitted a series of motoring offences, including taking and driving away his mother's car without permission.

He was banned from driving for a year, placed on probation for 18 months and fined £300.



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