Ex rugby player stole charity box for drugs

Kirklees Magistrates' Court
Kirklees Magistrates' Court

An ex pro rugby player stole a collection box from a charity shop to feed his drug habit.

Paul Sheard, 36, took the box from the Age UK shop in Cross Crown Street, Cleckheaton, on May 8, Kirklees Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Andy Wills said Sheard was in the shop at about 2.15pm with a member of staff and another customer.

He said the staff member heard a noise by the till and turned to see Sheard running out of the shop.

He was chased by the customer, who found Sheard’s coat and hat, the charity box still full of money and the shop’s scanner it was attached to, dumped nearby.

He took them back to the shop where the theft was reported to police, who took DNA samples from them and identified Sheard as the thief.

He was arrested and admitted the crime, saying he had been looking for clothes in the shop and instinctively took the box, dumping it and the other items when he realised he was being followed.

He said he was using drugs and would have bought them with the money.

He pleaded guilty on September 10.

Mitigating, Kathryn Watson said Sheard was extremely disgusted with himself and sorry for what he had done.

The court heard Sheard had been a professional rugby player who had played matches for charity – but started using drugs in 1997 through peer pressure. He was clean from 2000 to 2006 but his marriage broke down and he suffered a relapse.

He received a nine month community order with drug rehabilitation and ordered to pay £85 costs and £60 victim surcharge.