A 49-YEAR-OLD man who stole a bucket containing donations for a cancer charity from the bar of a local hotel told police it was a “spur of the moment thing”, Fermanagh Magistrates Court has heard.

Malcolm Morrison, of Rabbitburrow Road, Kiltenamullagh, Lisbellaw, pleaded guilty to stealing cash to the value of £350 or thereabouts belonging to Marie Curie Cancer Care on September 11, 2017.

The court heard that, at 11.45pm, staff at the Carrybridge Hotel reported the theft of a charity collection bucket used for donations towards a skydive in aid of Marie Curie.

It was estimated that there was between £600 to £700 in cash in the bucket at the time of the theft, the court heard.

The duty manager at the hotel said that the defendant had been the only person in the bar prior to the bucket, which was white with a green lid, going missing.

A chef had observed Morrison, who left the bar at around 7pm, carrying a white bucket with a green lid towards the accommodation block.

The bucket was subsequently recovered from the rear of the hotel.

Police attended Morrison’s home address on September 13. When he was spoken to, the defendant replied: “What’s this about?”

After the police seized £350 in cash from the property, Morrison admitted the theft.

The defendant claimed that he “didn’t know why” he had stolen the money, but added he had drink taken and it was a “spur of the moment thing”.

Defending solicitor, Niall Bogue, told the court that his client was “ashamed” about the unsavoury type of theft, but had made full admissions at an early opportunity.

Mr. Bogue said that the defendant had been assessed as posing a “low likelihood of re-offending” by the Probation Service.

In mitigation, the solicitor said that the police were going to return the £350 that had been seized from Morrison’s property to the Carrybridge hotel.

Mr. Bogue said his client did not believe that there had been £600 or £700 in the bucket, but had brought a further £150 in cash to court for the purposes of restitution.

District judge, Michael Ranaghan, observed that the offence was aggravated further by the fact it was the theft of charity money.

Giving credit for the guilty plea, and taking into account that £150 had been lodged as restitution, the judge imposed a £200 fine and ordered the defendant to carry out 100 hours of community service.