Blackburn heroin addict stole hospice charity box

CCTV of Paul Cheetham

CCTV of Paul Cheetham

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Crime reporter

A STEPSON admitted stealing from his stepfather and the ‘disgusting’ theft of a charity box for a hospice.

Blackburn magistrates heard 37-year-old Paul Cheetham had faked a burglary after stealing property worth £1,850 from his stepfather and was caught on CCTV when he stole the charity box from the Beechwood Garden Centre, in Roman Road, Blackburn.

The court was told he had committed the offences at a time when he was in the “depths of despair.”

Cheetham, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to theft of property belonging to Peter Couch, stealing the charity box, and theft of aftershave from TK max and Debenhams.

He was remanded on bail for the preparation of a pre-sentence report with a warning that custody would be an option.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said on the day of the theft from his stepfather the two men had spent the day together mountain biking.

When they returned home Cheetam said he was desperate for the toilet and went into the house, leaving Mr Couch to take care of the bikes.

When his stepfather went into the house, drawers had been emptied, his empty wallet was on the bed and a rear window appeared to have been forced. Cheetham said he thought he had seen somebody running out of the back, the court heard.

Mr Couch called the police to report a burglary but Cheetham later sent text messages to his mum admitting he had been responsible. Damian Pickup, defending, said Cheetham had found himself in the depths of despair.

“When heroin addicts like my client are desperate they will go to desperate measures in order to supply their addiction,” said Mr Pickup.

He said Cheetham thought he had beaten his addiction and got his life back on track.

“He had his own business and his own house and was free of heroin,” said Mr Pickup. “He had a relationship and everything was going well for him.”

Mr Pickup said the relationship broke down and Cheetham relapsed into taking heroin again.

Speaking after the hearing, Andrew Almond, manager at the Beechwood Garden Centre said: “I am pleased he has admitted what he did.

“I do not feel sorry for him and I hope he goes to jail for it.

“To steal a charity box, no matter what their personal circumstances, is disgusting."

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