Thief steals charity box to buy booze

A HEARTLESS thief stole money from a charity box in aid of a disabled nine-year-old girl so he could buy vodka.

Tony Ferguson was so drunk when he turned up for a dental appointment that he could not remember stealing the money from the box on the reception desk, magistrates heard.

Ferguson, 30, of Southwater Road, St Leonards, pleaded guilty to theft when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court recently.

The charity box was to raise funds for nine-year-old Katie Histed, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and lung disease. She is profoundly deaf, has impaired eye-sight and has to be fed by a tube as she cannot swallow.

Mark Kateley, prosecuting, said: “Ferguson went into the Chapel Park dental surgery on August 31.

“Staff later noticed that the charity box on the counter seemed lighter. CCTV footage showed Ferguson taking the box outside and shaking money out of it before returning it to the counter.

“He admitted the theft to police and said he took around £18 and bought two bottles of vodka with it.

“He is no stranger to the courts and was given a conditional discharge last year for burglary and theft.”

Samantha Wingfield, defending, said: “He feels embarrassed and ashamed as he is actually a man who gives to charity himself.

“He was going through a break-up with his long-term girlfriend of nine years and had been drinking quite a lot due to a phobia of going to the dentist.

“He cannot clearly remember taking the money from the box.

“He understands that it is not a nice offence taking money from a charity box that people had donated.”

Chairman of the bench, Godfrey Daniel said: “This was an unworthy offence and the public would be very concerned, as we are.”

Magistrates adjourned sentencing to await probation reports.