Harold Hill man who posed as charity worker to try and steal donation tins from Gidea Park shops avoids jail
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:48 10 January 2019
The 35-year-old attempted to take donation tins from three shops in Gidea Park last September.
A Harold Hill man who posed as a charity worker and tried to take donation tins from three different shops in Gidea Park has avoided jail.
John Peters, of Watford Road, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by false representation at Barkingside Magistrates Court yesterday (Monday, January 7).
The 35-year-old attempted to take tins from three shops in Gidea Park on Monday, September 10 last year, the court heard.
However, he failed to walk away with any money.
Police were called to clothes shop Pierrot in Main Road – which was the last of the three shops - and while Peters was still in the shop pretending to work for Saint Francis Hospice, he was arrested.
Peters was trying to swap the tin filled with money, for an empty one that he had been given by a friend.
It was heard in court the full tins contained around £45.
His defence Mary Buxton said Peters had intended to use the money to pay off a £25 drug debt.
At the time he committed the crime, Peters was unemployed and the debt had been run up buying cannabis to self-medicate his depression and anxiety, according to his defence.
However, the court heard he had recently shown a desire to get back into work and was currently carrying out part-time work as a roofer, earning around £200 a week.
It was also heard he was planning on taking part in a college course where he would learn the skills to carry out the paperwork required to be a full-time roofer.
When interviewed by police, Peters, who has been previously convicted for five offences of theft, told officers he was “properly checking money from all of the stores”.
The empty tin he tried to use to replace the full one in Pierrot was given to him by a friend, who owned another store in Romford that was closing, and was at the time empty.
Probation officer Jaime Kalychurn said due to the death of his brother in 2016, Peters’ head was “all over the place” and his “moods were up and down.”
For the last 12 months Peters told the probation officer he had been using a number of drugs including heroin, crack cocaine, alcohol and cannabis.
Speaking in his defence, Mary Buxton said Peters’ father died from cancer in 2012, and he had worked with Macmillan, where he carried out charity bike rides and runs to raise money for the charity.
She said this had given him some insight into how the charities work and was why he tried to change the empty tin for a full one.
Defending, Ms Buxton said: “He was very desperate for money.
“He deeply regrets his decision.
“He regrets trying to talk his way out of this.
“This is an area [Harold Hill] where he is not the only person who is doing this.”
Sentencing, judge Jane Myers said: “We don’t want to see you here again.
“You have got a chequered history, and it’s got to stop today, and you’ve got to get your life back.
“You’re very lucky, you were almost finished it [a previous suspended sentence from 2017].
“It was a very, very foolish thing to do against a charity which is extremely serious.
“It was even more foolish to do it with two weeks to go [to the end of his sentence].
“If you do this again you could find yourself back inside prison.”
Peters was made to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £85.
He was also sentenced to three months of drug rehabilitation, 15 days of rehab activation requirement and a curfew by electronic tag for three months from 8pm till 5.30am, seven days a week.