Pair admit stealing 17 poppy collection tins across Essex

Chelmsford Crown Court

Chelmsford Crown Court - Credit: Lucy taylor

Two heroin addicts have admitted stealing 17 poppy tins in the fortnight leading up to Armistice Day last year.

Roma Taylor, of Cedar Avenue, Tiptree, and Anthony Archer, of Ongar Road, Writtle, pleaded guilty to 17 charges of theft of the Royal British Legion tins at Chelmsford Crown Court this morning.

The tins were stolen from shops and smaller supermarkets across Essex, including Tiptree, Colchester, Chelmsford and Maldon, with offences carried out almost daily from October 28 until November 8.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said one of them acted as a distraction while the other took the tin, sometimes replacing it with a dummy collection tin.

Taylor, 51, and Archer, 53, have been remanded in custody after Judge Christopher Ball QC ordered pre-sentence reports into the pair following an application by their barrister Frank O’Toole.

Mr O’Toole said the pair were both heavily addicted to heroin, “and have been for some time”.

However Judge Ball warned the pair they faced a lengthy prison sentence.

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He said: “Quite clearly there is a risk of heavy sentencing because of the public horror of stealing poppy day money.

“It would be helpful for a sentencing judge to have a report. What is it that drives people to sink so low as this to steal charity collection pots, in the days running up to November 11.

“My delay is not an indication that anything other than custody will be passed, but for a sentence that is proportionate.”

The pair will be sentenced back at the court from February 2.