Matthew James Paton leaves the Ipswich Courthouse
Matthew James Paton leaves the Ipswich Courthouse

‘People do it all the time’: Man's excuse for charity theft

HELPING yourself to donated goods put in charity bins is still theft, even if you see other people do it.

One Ipswich man learnt the lesson when he went before Ipswich Magistrates charged with stealing goods including a high-vis bright orange work vest.

When Matthew Paton and his buddy were spotted removing goods from a charity bin in West Ipswich an annoyed passer-by phoned police.

This week Matthew James Paton, 42, pleaded guilty to stealing goods from First World Charities in Brisbane Street on September 1 last year.

He also pleaded to an unrelated breach of a protection order.

Prosecutor Senior Constable Bridie O'Shea said a person called 000 at 11.15am that day to report two males seen stealing items from a charity bin.

Ipswich Safe City security cameras showed the police officers spoke to Paton in the street.

He was found with two blankets and an orange high visibility work vest, saying he'd taken the goods from the charity bin.

"He says he was unaware it was stealing as people do it all the time," Snr Const O'Shea said.

Defence lawyer Trevor Hoskin said Paton was sentenced by Ipswich District Court last December and if the charges had been dealt with then he would not have received a bigger penalty.

"The items were taken from a charity bin which commonly happens," Mr Hoskin said.

He said Paton received Centrelink benefits and was looking for work.

Magistrate Andy Cridland took note of the recent District Court penalty and fined Paton $500.

The fine was sent to the government penalties agency SPER to work out a payment plan.

Read more stories by Ross Irby here.