Thief who stole honesty box from garden produce sale ordered to pay back cash he took

PUBLISHED: 10:50 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:50 11 September 2018

Norwich Crown Court. Picture Adrian Judd.

Norwich Crown Court. Picture Adrian Judd.

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A thief who stole an honesty box containing £20 from the sale of garden produce has left the owner feeling disappointed but determined to carry on serving his customers, who he considers as friends, a court heard.

Neil Barrett, 49, stole the cash box after calling at the address, in Yaxham, and chatting with the owner, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Jamie Sawyer, prosecuting, said the behaviour of Barrett aroused his suspicion and when he left he noticed the honesty box had gone.

Mr Sawyer said police were contacted and Barrett was traced through a car registration plate and CCTV at the property.

When police went to arrest Barrett he was found hiding in bushes.

Mr Sawyer said the victim in an impact statement said the sale of produce was based on trust and the theft had left him feeling disappointed.

Mr Sawyer said despite that he had decided to carry on: “He said he had considered not selling produce but thinks of his customers as friends and enjoys seeing them.”

Barrett, of Rayners Way, Mattishall, admitted theft of the honesty box on July 29. He also admitted being in breach of a suspended sentence order.

Judge Katharine Moore said the theft by Barrett had hit the victim hard: “The effect on him has been really very much more significant than the loss of around £20 in an honesty box.”

She said that the victim liked to have a relationship with his customers, which was based on trust with them paying for produce they took, but said that Barrett had instead decided to steal the honesty box.

However she said that she accepted when he carried out the offence he had not had time to fully engage with his suspended sentence order so instead she imposed a conditional discharge and ordered that any further breaches be reserved to her.

She warned Barrett that if he did breach the order he would face custody.

She also made him to pay £30 to the victim to pay for the cash he stole and a new honesty box.

Neil Guest, for Barrett, said that he was desperate for cash to get petrol for his car so he could drive to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to see an ill relative of his partner.

He said: “It does not excuse him, but does give some insight.”

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