VIDEO: Rhossili honesty box thief appears in court
A THIEF who drunkenly stole an honesty box said he did it in a “moment of madness”.
Paul Bujega aged 37, admitted he had stolen the honesty box and cans of pop from inside a fridge left on the lane near Mewslade Bay in Rhossili.
The fridge is stocked by local vegetable grower Mark Button for passing beachgoers to take items from inside and leave a contribution for him.
As well as cold drinks and ice creams, he also stores home-grown vegetables such as cucumbers and courgettes inside, with a box where the cover price of the goods can be placed.
Bujega, of St Michael’s Avenue in Pontarddulais, was captured on CCTV taking the box by the owner. He said his friends had told him to steal the money to pay for their petrol for the trip to the beach.
Hundreds of people shared the video of the incident after Mr Button posted it online.
Bujega appeared in front of city magistrates and admitted theft.
Prosecutor Anwen Evans told the court that at 4.58pm on July 20 a grey van was seen driving up the lane but left. The van then returned shortly afterwards and Bujega was seen to get out of the passenger side and go over towards the fridge.
Bujega then selected a range of drinks and was seen walking away with the honesty box and the drinks.
He then got back into the vehicle which then drove off.
A week later, on July 27, he handed himself into police.
The prosecution said the box contained around £25 in cash, but Bujega told police it was £8.
Bujega has 31 previous offences of theft on his record.
Steven John, for Bujega, said the fact his client had handed himself in to police should count towards his sentence.
“He wouldn’t be before the court if he hadn’t voluntarily surrendered himself at Swansea Central police station,” he said.
Mr John said he accepted his client had breached a level of trust when he took the items.
He told the court Bujega had been drinking before the incident and that he had stopped to look inside the fridge, seen the honesty box and decided to take it.
“It was just a moment of madness,” said Mr John.
“He almost thinks there may have been a level of showing off to his friends,” he added.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, he recognises quite clearly that the level of behaviour on this occasion simply wasn’t acceptable.”
Magistrates imposed a six-month community order and ordered he pay £25 in compensation.