Buxton woman stole Royal British Legion poppy collection tin to fuel drug habit

Sophie Elizabeth Clare, 26, of Buxton, who has been jailed after stealing a poppy collection tin from a Buxton medical practice.
Sophie Elizabeth Clare, 26, of Buxton, who has been jailed after stealing a poppy collection tin from a Buxton medical practice.
  • Sophie Clare stole a Royal British Legion poppy tin from a Buxton medical centre
  • The 26-year-old heroin addict wanted the money to fund her drug habit
  • Clare was jailed for 12 weeks

A Buxton heroin addict who stole a Royal British Legion poppy collection tin from a medical centre has been jailed for 12 weeks.

And the organisers of the town’s annual poppy appeal, which last year raised £33,000, have expressed their disappointment at the theft.

We all put a lot of time and effort into these collections so to have this happen is very disappointing.

Allan Smith, Buxton Poppy Appeal organiser

Sophie Elizabeth Clare, 26, of London Road, was seeking treatment when she snatched the charity cash from the Stewart Medical Centre to feed her drug habit, Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday.

Allan Smith, Buxton Poppy Appeal organiser, said: “We are disappointed that it happened.

“Luckily the Stewart Medical Centre have CCTV so the police were able to catch the person responsible.

“Unfortunately this does happen, but I’m very surprised that it has happened in our town.”

Mr Smith added: “The poppy team and myself raised £33,000 last time. We all put a lot of time and effort into these collections so to have this happen is very disappointing.”

He added that it was impossible to say how much money had been in the tin at the time of the theft.

Clare had previously been convicted in her absence following a trial, according to prosecuting solicitor Sherrall Pickford, for the theft at the Stewart Medical Centre in Buxton.

Defence solicitor Saul Comish said: “She is ashamed.

“The theft was caused by her addiction to heroin.

“She went to the doctor’s for genuine reasons and there was no planning and it was impulsive.

“She took the box when no-one was watching in order to feed her habit.”

The probation service told the court that Clare - who is unfit for work and dependant on benefits - had developed a £60 a day heroin addiction over the last year and she has been using amphetamines occasionally since she was 16-years-old.

Clare fully accepted her guilt for the theft, according to the probation service, which happened on November 4, last year.

She also pleaded guilty to breaching her bail conditions by failing to attend her trial and she also admitted a separate offence of possessing amphetamine.

Mr Comish urged the court to consider deferring any sentence for a month to see if Clare could co-operate with the probation service so an alternative to custody could be considered.

He added: “Without a positive report she will be looking at a custodial sentence and will be addressing her drug problems from inside prison.”

But magistrates sentenced Clare to 12 weeks’ custody for the theft, possessing amphetamine and the bail breach.