Harold Hill man who repeatedly posed as fake hospice worker to steal charity tins jailed
PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 January 2019
Ken Mears/Met Police
A Harold Hill man who posed as a charity worker from Saint Francis Hospice and stole donation tins from three different shops - two days after pleading guilty to committing the same crime - has now been sent to jail.
One of the people he tried to defraud had seen his photo from the Recorder’s coverage of the previous court case two weeks before, and reported him to the police.
John Peters, 36, of Redruth Road pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud by false representation at Barkingside Magistrates Court on Wednesday (January 23) and was sentenced to 18 weeks behind bars.
He had previously pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud - after he tried to take tins from three shops in Gidea Park - at the same court just over two weeks before (January 7).
Peters - who appeared in court wearing a claret and blue West Ham shirt with “Peters” and the number 35 on the back - went into the Co-op in Station Parade, Elm Park and said he was collecting the tins for Saint Francis Hospice - which provides end of life care.
He swapped two empty donations tins for full ones.
This was just two days after he appeared in court and pleaded guilty to his criminal efforts in Gidea Park.
Collectively the boxes were believed to have contained between £50-£100.
The very next day he tried to do the same at Harold Hill Health Centre in Gooshays Drive, but ran away empty handed.
In the space of two weeks he had tried to steal tins from three different shops, swapping three empty ones for full ones from another Co-op store in Hornchurch Road - said to contain between £150-£200 altogether - and trying to collect donations for a charity bike ride he said he was taking part in at Rowlands Chemist in Ardleigh Green Road.
In his defence, Jackie Joseph told the court Peters had a drug problem and said: “He says he feels stupid going back and doing the same thing.
“If he goes to prison he won’t be able to get the help he clearly needs. “He would come out and still have a drug problem, and he could well commit the crimes again.
“It is an unpleasant offence and he will be the first to admit this.
“He wasn’t thinking straight.”
When Peters went into Rowlands Chemist on Friday, January 18, he spoke to a member of staff and said he was raising funds for charity – the manager said it was better for him to return when there were more people in the shop, but he insisted on taking money there and then.
The part-time roofer was given £1 and gave details to staff so they could donate further, before leaving the shop.
A member of staff then went home and was reading the Recorder when they saw Peters photo, and the next day reported him to 101.
Speaking after Peters was sentenced, they told the Recorder: “If I hadn’t seen his photo in the paper then I would never have known, I saw it and I recognised him straight away.
“He was praying on the kind-nature and weakness of other people, because everyone has known somebody who has been treated at the hospice.
“It was important the Recorder reported on this to make others aware, and now hopefully others will recognise him and if when he gets out of prison and he tries to do it again they will know straight away.”
Sentencing, Claire Pithie said: “You will be going to prison today.
“You walked out of here on the seventh with an opportunity. Which you failed to take.
“These are not thoughtless crimes. You lied to those people in the shop, and you said you were collecting money for a hospice where people are dying.
“It’s just not acceptable.
“Had it not been for them spotting you in the newspaper you would not have stopped, as you thought you were onto a good thing.
“I am thankful they spotted you in the newspaper.
“You simply don’t think or you don’t care and I don’t know which one it is.”