Leeds man struggling for money turned to begging instead of shop-lifting

Matthew Richard Hill was caught begging near the chapel on Park Row.
Matthew Richard Hill was caught begging near the chapel on Park Row.
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A Leeds man told a court that he had turned to begging rather than steal after struggling for money.

Matthew Richard Hill was caught begging in the Park Row area of Leeds city centre on June 14 and pleaded guilty to the offence when he appeared at Leeds Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Alex Bozman, prosecuting, said Hill, 38, was sat near Mill Hill Chapel, with a cup in front of him, counting loose change when spotted by police.

"The police advise that in Mr Hill's case various orders have been made on previous occasions to prevent him from carrying on with his begging activity but he has not taken advantage of any of these, so we are where we are today. The most recent matter is a shop theft and there are historical begging matters also on the record."

Hill, of Cottingley Towers at Beeston represented himself in court. He said: "At the moment I am in contact with Forward Leeds and put on a methadone programme and they have given me a prescription. I was sorting my bag and lost it and because I lost it they had to wait until my next appointment and four weeks to re-start it.

"I was struggling for money and rather than shoplift or do any crime, the simplest thing I could do was beg to get some money to see me through".

A fine was waived by the chair of the bench, Annette Stansfield, who said Hill still had to pay a £20 surcharge which would be taken from his benefits and he was given a conditional discharge.

She added: "We appreciate the explanation and hope that you are getting things back on an even keel and this will be a deterrent."