Charity box thief gets unpaid work

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The teenager who stole a Help For Heroes collection box from a funeral directors run by an injured serviceman has been given community service.

Curtis Willard, 19, of no fixed address, appeared at Eastbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning (July 4) and pleaded guilty to stealing the charity box from Payne & Son in Seaside on Friday (July 29).

The court heard Willard had gone in to the funeral directors, which is a family business set up by Christopher Howard who lost his hand and leg while serving in Afghanistan.

Christopher’s mother Donna was manning the desk in the funeral parlour when Willard asked her about costs for his nan’s funeral.

Donna turned her back and he stole the Help for Heroes collection tin and made a quick exit.

Willard’s aunty called the police when the CCTV footage of the crime was shown on television.

Justin Rivett, defending, said Willard had been in care and stole the cash because he was homeless and hungry. He said he had gone in to Payne & Son for a genuine reason and it was an opportunist theft.

Willard was given a 12-month community order with supervision. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.

See the full story in the Eastbourne Herald on Friday (July 6).