A man used a child to help him steal money from a collection box for a children’s cancer charity.

Ioan Matthew McKenzie, 40, took cash which kindhearted customers at the Bull Inn, Llangollen had donated to the Children with Cancer charity.

Wyn Jones, prosecuting, said that on June 15 a cleaner had found the box at the bottom of a bin in the gents toilets and reported it to the landlord, which found CCTV footage from May 31 which showed a man and a child approach the bar.

The child removed the box from the bar and the man, later identified as McKenzie, took it off him and hid it down his trousers before going to an outdoor drinking area.

McKenzie, of the Ty Nos shelter on Holt Road, Wrexham, put the box in a carrier bag before going to the toilet and came out with the bag, before leaving with the child and a woman.

Mr Wyn told the court that he had no further information about the child.

When interviewed McKenzie said he had been drunk and told police how he had emptied the money from the box while in the toilets.

He added he did not know how much money was in the box and apologised for the theft.

Mr Jones counted 94 court appearances on McKenzie’s record, the most recent on August 7 when magistrates in Wrexham jailed him for eight weeks, suspended for a year, for shoplifting and breaching a conditional discharge – although the charity box theft predated those offences.

Fiona Larkin, defending said it was a “quite terrible mistake” for McKenzie to have stolen the box and he was “extremely remorseful for what he did”.

He was “clearly not in his right frame of thinking to have done something like that”, Miss Larkin said.

At the time of the theft McKenzie had been released from prison about nine days before and was struggling, the court heard.

He had no benefits, was homeless and stupidly took the charity box, Miss Larkin added.

While McKenzie had drug and alcohol problems in the past, Miss Larkin said his drug issues were under control through a methadone prescription and fortnightly treatment sessions, and his drinking was “under control in comparison to what it was”.

He had also secured accommodation at Ty Nos.

Miss Larkin said that in her submission, immediate custody would mean he would come out and be in the same situation that he was in before.

She added that McKenzie had brought £20 with him to the court as “some kind of recompense”for the money that had been taken.

Helen Paterson, chairman of the magistrates bench, told McKenzie that he had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, but the theft was a serious matter.

Ms Paterson branded the offence “despicable” and said that it passed the custody threshold.

However it was an old matter, which could have been dealt with previously.

McKenzie was jailed for four weeks, suspended for six months.

he must also pay £115 in prosecution costs and a surcharge of £85.

Ms Paterson added: “We would suggest that it would be a nice gesture to take that £20 and put it back in the charity box in the pub.

“It might help absolve your conscience.”