Scarborough man who stole charity box from McDonald's avoids jail

York Crown Court - Image: Steve BambridgeYork Crown Court - Image: Steve Bambridge
York Crown Court - Image: Steve Bambridge
A “despicable” thief who snatched money from an elderly man at a cashpoint and stole a charity box at the McDonald’s restaurant in Scarborough has been spared prison.

Keegan Taylor, 32, went into the fast-food restaurant in Huntriss Row to buy food but when the staff turned their backs to serve him, he grabbed a yellow charity tin with £155 inside and stuffed it inside his jacket before making off, York Crown Court heard.

About three weeks later, an 80-year-old man with a walking stick went to a cashpoint machine outside Proudfoots supermarket in Eastfield and was followed by Taylor who was “lurking in the background”, with a black mask on and his hood up.

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Prosecutor Emma Handley said that as the named victim withdrew £50, Taylor tried to snatch the notes as they were dispensed from the machine.

There was a “tug-of-war” between the two men as Taylor tried to prise the cash from the victim’s hand.

The victim managed to hold onto a solitary £10 note as Taylor tried to snatch the cash from his hand but the remaining £40 fell to the ground.

Due to his mobility problems, the victim was unable to reach down to retrieve the money. Taylor picked the cash up and ran off.

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Ms Handley said Taylor was drunk during both offences and CCTV at the McDonald’s till during the theft on March 2 showed he was “unsteady on his feet”.

It showed Taylor and his friend ordering food and “as the staff look away, the defendant reaches over the counter and removes a yellow charity box containing £155”.

He then placed his jacket over the box and the two men left. Taylor’s friend played no part in the theft.

Taylor, of Ridgeway, Eastfield, was identified the following day after McDonald’s handed the CCTV footage to police. He was recognised by a police constable.

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The attack on the elderly man occurred at about 6.25pm on March 22, when Taylor, his face disguised, stood “close behind” the victim at the cash machine before making a grab for his cash.

The victim remained rooted to the spot for a few minutes in a state of shock before reporting the theft in a nearby shop.

Taylor, who works as a sprayer for a plastics firm in Pickering, was initially charged with robbing the victim, but this was ultimately dropped by the prosecution which accepted his plea to an alternative charge of theft, as well as assaulting the victim.

He also admitted stealing the charity box and appeared for sentence for all three matters today.

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The elderly man said he was “devastated” and “livid” about the attack and was initially put off going to the shops.

He added: “The world is an aggressive place at the moment and everyone is trying to get money.”

Taylor had seven previous offences on his record including shop theft, racially aggravated public disorder and drug possession.

His solicitor advocate Kevin Blount said Taylor earned good money from his full-time job and was able to live a law-abiding life when not “in drink”.

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He said the father-of-two had struggled with alcohol since the break-up of a long-term relationship and was now living with his mother.

Judge Simon Hickey told Taylor: “These are all despicable offences. To steal a charity box from McDonald’s when people have given their money, expecting it to be given to a very good cause, is shocking.”

He noted that the charity money had never been recovered.

Mr Hickey described the attack on the elderly man as the “deliberate targeting of this victim due to his vulnerability” which was “nearly a robbery”.

However, he said that due to sentencing guidelines for theft and common assault, Taylor would only receive a very short prison sentence if he were sent to jail.

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Instead, he was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence with 120 hours of unpaid work, 35 rehabilitation-activity days and a 120-day alcohol-abstinence programme.

He was ordered to pay McDonald’s £155 compensation and £40 to the elderly theft victim.