Callous thief stole from Sunderland soup kitchen volunteer

Bethshan City Church
Bethshan City Church

A callous thief stole from a volunteer who was helping people in need at a Sunderland soup kitchen.

Sean Mooney, 35, and another man helped themselves to a number of William Openshaw’s belongings while he was feeding the needy at Bethshan City Church, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Bethshan City Church

Bethshan City Church

The pair had found Mr Openshaw’s coat hanging in the disabled toilets of the church.

Laura Johnson, prosecuting, said the pair stole a mobile phone, a bank card, bus pass and a nectar card, which were kept in a phone case.

Mooney, of Norfolk Street, Sunderland, was then responsible for using the bank card to make a contactless payment of £26 for two bottles of vodka in an Iceland store.

Ms Johnston said: “The victim is a volunteer at Bethshan City Church. He has been helping with the soup kitchen for the previous three years, providing meals for people in need.

The victim is a volunteer at Bethshan City Church – He has been helping with the soup kitchen for the previous three years, providing meals for people in need

Laura Johnson, prosecuting

“At 11.30am on January 27, Mr Openshaw was at the church helping out in the kitchen and left his outdoor jacket hanging in the disabled toilet in the church, because it was quiet at that time.

“In his pocket was a mobile phone, Barclays Bank card, a bus pass and a Nectar card.”

Ms Johnson said that on Mr Openshaw’s return, at 1pm, the items had gone.

She said: “He contacted the bank and was told it had been used in shops in Sunderland city centre.”

The court heard Mooney and his co-defendant, who is being dealt with separately, were intercepted by police as they got into a taxi to leave the area.

Officers had been alerted to two suspicious men, who had been seen in The Bridges.

Two bottles of vodka and a set of Bluetooth headphones were recovered.

The bank card had been used in TK Maxx, Iceland, Collectibles and Booots, the court heard.

Mooney pleaded guilty to theft and fraud by false representation.

He is currently subject to suspended sentence, imposed the same day the latest offences were committed.

John Wesencraft, defending, said: “Mr Mooney seems to be at a loss to why he became involved with this offending.

“He has been trying all he can to stay out of trouble and he’s somewhat disappointed with himself that he has succumbed to this.

“It was an opportunist matter of taking items from a jacket hanging in the toilets.

“There was a transaction of £26, which is below the £30 contactless limit, because that is how the card was used. Mr Mooney was only responsible for that.

“Having done so, he immediately regretted his involvement.”

Mooney was fined £120 and was told, to pay costs of £85 and a surcharge of £30.