Drug addict tried to steal coins from Chester Cathedral's 'wishing well' fountain


Staff reporter (Chester Standard)

A drug addict tried to steal change thrown into the fountain in Chester Cathedral’s grounds to buy heroin, a court heard.

Richard Hopkins, 37, of Hough Green, Chester, pleaded guilty at Chester Magistrates Court to one count of attempted theft.

Prosecutor Rob Youds told the court that in the early hours of March 12, an alarm was set off in the cathedral grounds. 

The Cathedral Constable, Sam Jones, went to check CCTV and saw that there was a man in the fountain in the middle of the cathedral grounds scooping up the change which had been thrown in for good luck by visitors. 

Mr Youds said Mr Jones found the intruder hiding behind a sculpture in the middle of the fountain wearing a T-shirt and shorts. 

Mr Youds said that the fountain was used like a wishing well by visitors to the Cathedral and that staff would occasionally collect the money to give to local good causes.

In interview, Hopkins admitted trying to steal the money. He told police he scaled the cathedral walls to get in because he needed money to buy heroin and that he was told it was a good place to find money. 

Mr Youds told the court Hopkins had 17 convictions for 27 offences, including 12 for theft – although he had not been convicted of a theft since 2014. 

Defending, Adrian Evans told the court that at the time Hopkins was going through a “difficult time” because he was homeless and suffering from depression. 

Mr Evans said Hopkins suffered from epilepsy after being badly assaulted and left in a coma twice. 

Mr Evans said no money was actually stolen by Hopkins in the end and that he was “not proud” of his actions.

Magistrates sentenced Hopkins to a 12-month conditional discharge and also ordered that he pay prosecution costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20. 

See full story in the Chester Leader

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