Piggy bank thief stole hundreds being saved for ex-girlfriend’s baby

Gina McDonald, 19, with her son Riley.
Gina McDonald, 19, with her son Riley.
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A greedy thief stole hundreds of pounds belonging to a young baby whose “gutted” single mother had scrimped and saved for.

Kristofer Quinn, 20, helped himself to £290 which Gina MacDonald had hidden in various savings boxes around her East Rainton home, some of which she was hoping to use to take one-year-old Riley on holiday next year, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Janice Bellamy, prosecuting, said Miss McDonald had met Quinn in February, and the pair had been in a short relationship, during which he was given a key to her home.

She said: “She kept several savings boxes around the house belonging to her son Riley. She was saving up for a holiday in 2016.

“In April she discovered the money was missing from a box hidden behind a picture in Riley’s bedroom and a box which had been hidden behind his wardrobe.

“There were no signs of forced entry and the only other person with a key to the premises was Quinn.

“He was spoken to by police and admitted he had taken the money.”

Mrs Bellamy said Quinn had been told he would not be prosecuted if he apologised to Miss McDonald within eight weeks and made arrangements to pay back the money.

She added: “During that eight-week period there was no offer of any payment and no apology.”

Quinn, of Jennifer Avenue, Castletown, admitted theft from a dwelling.

In a statement read out on court, Miss McDonald said: “I am gutted that Christopher has stolen from my son. The money was for a holiday next year.

“I am a single parent and every penny I put away for Riley was as a result of me going without. I have lost my trust in people. The money was for a rainy day also.”

Representing himself, Quinn told the court: “I’ve got no excuse to offer. It was a lapse of character, I shouldn’t have done it.”

‘I’m devastated - I feel I have let down my young son’

Gina McDonald has told of the devastation and guilt she feels after she allowed Quinn into her home to steal money and smash an irreplaceable savings jar – given to the youngster as a Christening gift.

The 19-year-old, who has just completed a college course in health and social care, started going out with Quinn in February after meeting him a month earlier.

He told her he had a job and Gina, who left for college at 7.45am each morning, gave him a front door key to save him getting up earlier than he had to.

Unbeknownst to her, Quinn started searching the house, in East Rainton, for cash, even stealing from the baby’s nursery.

She said: “I’d got Riley a bookshelf with all of his Christening presents on. His godmother got him a ceramic savings jar with his name on it, which was hidden behind a photo frame.”

The jar had £100 in it, some of which had been given to the youngster for his first Christmas. Gina also had various savings tins dotted around the house. Some had just loose change in but there was also £200 she had put away for a holiday next year, this included £60 Gina’s grandmother had given them for Easter.

She said: “He has actually sat and fished £30 out of one of the tins. He knew that was Riley’s money.

“Riley’s never going to get that back. I feel I have completely let him down. His own dad is not involved to begin with and now the person who was treating him so well and was so lovely to him has gone and done that to him.

“The thought of him going through my things makes me feel sick.”

“I was on the phone to him when I released the money was gone. I started crying yet he still denied he had anything to do with it. He let me be afraid that someone had come into the house.”

The experience has now put Gina off another relationship, because she doesn’t trust people around her son.

She said: “I can’t even put into words how I feel. I don’t want to be in a relationship. I don’t want to have people around Riley. It still makes me feel very guilty. I was supposed not to let things happen to him, but I brought Kris into the house.”

“I can’t offer any excuse for what I’ve done.”

When asked to elaborate further, he told the bench: “I was jobless, penniless. It was just for survival.”

Magistrates ordered Quinn to pay fines and costs of £248. He was also ordered to pay compensation of £210 which will be deducted from his benefits by instalments.