Man admits stealing Royal British Legion collection tins

Poppy Appeal thefts Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew Smith was caught on CCTV removing three collection tins in Plymouth

A man who stole Royal British Legion collection tins on Remembrance Day has been sentenced to community service.

Andrew Smith, 42, of Beaumont Road, Plymouth, was caught on CCTV removing three collection tins in the city's McDonalds restaurants.

Plymouth Magistrates' Court heard Smith "did not know it was Remembrance Day".

Magistrates ordered him to do 120 hours of community service and pay £100 compensation to the charity.

The court heard Smith brought scissors with him to remove the tins on Sunday 9 November and Monday 10 November.

The 42 year old was identified by his distinctive jacket in CCTV footage.

Prosecutor Gareth Warden said: "The first tin contained £6.71 which he said he used to buy tobacco."

The contents of the other collection tins was unknown.

'Morally repugnant'

During proceedings Mr Warden read a statement from Ray Sheppard, head of the Poppy Appeal for the Royal British Legion.

Mr Sheppard said "thefts of this nature have a serious impact".

After the hearing Shaun Harris, a crime investigator for Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "The theft of charity money is morally repugnant in any circumstances but these particular thefts occurred at a very sensitive time for many Plymouth families.

"The theft of such monies hinders the hard work carried out by the Royal British Legion in helping the people who rely on the public donation."

Smith was also ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge of £145.

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