Charity cash thief jailed after throwing away second chance

Some of the money stolen had been donated to the Sense charity.
Some of the money stolen had been donated to the Sense charity.
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A thief with a history of stealing money collected for charities has been jailed.

Michael McKeown spent the cash meant for worthy causes such as the North West Air Ambulance and deaf and blind people on drugs, a court was told.

McKeown, 31, of Derby Road, North Shore, who formerly owned a car mechanics business, pleaded guilty to three burglaries during which he stole two lots of charity money.

Earlier this month, he got a suspended prison sentence for stealing five charity boxes when he burgled two food outlets. He has now been sentenced to 39 weeks jail by Blackpool magistrates.

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Pam Smith, prosecuting, said McKeown broke into three premises in Thornton and Cleveleys on February 21.

At The Sense charity shop he stole £70 including cash from a charity box for blind and deaf people.

At the Tram Stop cafe McKeown took the contents of an Air Ambulance charity box and some tools. He also stole £4.50 in change from La Dolce Vita restaurant.

Earlier in the month he was sentenced to a 13-week suspended sentence after admitting stealing a charity box from Oliver’s Sandwich Shop in Dickson Road, Blackpool, and the four charity boxes from the Peppermill Cafe in Birley Street.

Patrick Nelligan, defending, said: “He immediately admitted his guilt. The burglaries were committed with a view to him finding money for drugs. He has a heroin problem.”

McKeown was said to have kept off drugs for years but returned to using them after his sister died last year, he lost his business and split-up with his partner.

A Sense spokesman said: “While it is disappointing to be the victim of any type of theft, what is heartening is the support the local community showed to us after it happened.”