Cancer charity thief jailed
A DERRIFORD Hospital security guard who stole £1,220 from a cancer charity has been jailed and ordered to pay most of the money back.
Judge Ian Leeming QC said the thefts were "disgraceful" and "a gross breach of trust", leaving him no alternative but to send Daniel Wills to prison immediately.
Plymouth Crown Court heard that Wills, aged 24 and from Bicton Close, Leigham, had pleaded guilty to one count of theft and asked for another theft to be taken into consideration.
He confessed to stealing £70 in June from an unlocked drawer in the Palliative Care Unit, which cares for terminally-ill patients.
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The theft with which he was charged came on September 4.
Breast cancer patient Kerry Barker had raised £1,000 for the Macmillan cancer charity's Mustard Tree Centre. The cash was placed in an envelope and locked in the office safe with other money.
Next day Wills phoned in sick, but the same day gave £100 to a friend towards a £300 debt, saying he had come into some money.
On September 7 the safe was opened and the cash was found to be missing. However, in the safe was a black diary in Wills' handwriting with the room access codes highlighted.
Computer records showed Wills had entered the hospital between midnight and 1.30am on September 5 and again from 2.15am to 2.45am, times when he had no reason to be there.
On September 8, Wills paid £700 in cash for a Vauxhall Calibra car.
Interviewed by police a fortnight later, Wills said: "I did it; I admit it.
"I don't know what the money was for; it will be on my conscience for some time.
"It was silly – stupid."
Asked if he had financial problems, he replied: "Nothing not manageable."
Kelly Scrivener, for Wills, said he now worked in a restaurant within a store, and had saved £1,000 from his wages to repay the cash he had stolen. If he was given a suspended sentence, he hoped to pay back the full amount within two months.
He was extremely remorseful and knew what he did was stupid and greedy.
She added: "His fiancée works at the same hospital; she is angry with him and embarrassed."
Sentencing Wills to 20 weeks in prison, Judge Leeming said both offences were disgraceful and the victims were people who would benefit from the charity.
He ordered him to repay Macmillan £800 from his savings within 14 days.
Speaking from home following her latest chemotherapy treatment, Kerry Barker said: "This act of stupidity has ruined the rest of his life.
"I had hoped to be in court because I wanted him to see me – to see the reality of who he'd taken the money from."
Miss Barker said she had hoped for a longer sentence, but added: "I didn't think we would get any of the money back."
Lesley Darke, the acting chief operating officer of the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "All our staff are extremely saddened and disappointed that someone who was in a position of trust and responsibility abused this to steal charitable donations which were given to help enhance care for patients.
"Mr Wills had no criminal record when he was employed by our contractors, Securi-Guard. Criminal record checks were done and extensive vetting carried out by the company and by the Security Industry Authority. Devon and Cornwall Police have commended the work of our security team in helping ensure this case was successfully investigated and brought to justice."