A deaf school is a charity? A NEWBURY man has received a suspended jail sentence for stealing a charity box in aid of the Mary Hare School for deaf children. He would have gone straight to prison but for his early guilty plea, said a district judge.
In the dock at Reading Magistrates’ Court last Thursday was convicted burglar Michael Higor Da Silva, who lives at Northway. Matthew Gauntlett, prosecuting, said 37-year-old Mr Da Silva walked into a barber’s shop in Newbury town centre at around 3.50pm. He added: “He waited until no staff were present on the shop floor. “He then took the charity box, hid it under his clothing and walked out.” Mr Da Silva was identified from CCTV footage and later tried to claim the box contained no more than £7.
But Mr Gauntlett urged the court not to take his word for it and added: “For obvious reasons, we will never know the true amount, but the barber shop owner said it had been three-quarters full and that he had been putting a fair bit of money in himself. “The defendant told police he stole it because he owed people money.” On another occasion, the court heard, Mr Da Silva went to Tesco in Newbury and stole a Panasonic DVD player worth £79.99. Mr Gauntlett said: “He went into the store around 11.30pm, went to the electrical aisle and removed the security tag from the item.
“He then concealed it in a bag and walked out without attempting to pay.” The court heard that Mr Da Silva was again recognised from CCTV footage and on being arrested told police he had been “high” at the time and had no recollection of committing the offences. Mr Da Silva admitted stealing the charity box in aid of the Mary Hare School for deaf children, based at Snelsmore, on March 14. He also admitted stealing the DVD player on January 23. Mr Da Silva also has previous convictions, including burglary. Simon Hammudi, defending, said his client came from a “very troubled background” and added:
“He was an alcoholic at 12 years; by 15 years he was addicted to heroin.” He added: “He doesn’t drink alcohol any more, but he is still addicted to heroin. “He has a prescription and now takes 65ml of [heroin substitute] methadone a day. “I would ask the court to defer sentence to allow him to continue treatment at Swanswell [a substance misuse organisation].” But district judge Nigel Hodkinson said: “I’m not persuaded to defer sentence.” Turning to Mr Da Silva he said: “I could have sent you straight to prison today. “However, you pleaded guilty and the probation service say you are attending appointments when they tell you to. “But even with all that help, and a methadone prescription, you still stole things.” He sentenced Mr Da Silva to eight weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.