03 November 2016

Heroin Addict Attempts to Steal Charity Wishing Well to Fund Addiction

It is often the case that a drug addict will become so desperate to fund his or her addiction that he/she will turn to crime to achieve this. One man who began stealing to pay for his heroin addiction is 33-year-old Richard Maddock. He has recently been sentenced to ten months and two weeks in prison for stealing a charity wishing well from a shopping centre in Exeter.


Maddock was caught on CCTV after he moved the well and tried to wheel it out of the camera’s view. He was then approached by security guards who found him in the process of trying to remove the metal grill so that he could get a hold of the coins inside. Once he knew he had been caught, he fled but was soon found hiding in bushes and was arrested. He admitted to police that he wanted the money to buy more drugs but was hesitant because he did not want to steal from a charity.

The well has been part of the shopping mall since 2014 and collects funds for a different charity each year. This year the chosen charity is the Exeter Deaf Academy. Although the well appears to be fixed into the ground, it is actually on casters, which made it possible for Maddock to wheel it away.

Previous Burglaries

His attempt to steal the well occurred in October 2016 while he was already on a suspended sentence for burglary. He had been caught stealing two Apple Pencils worth £99 each from a nearby Apple Store. At the time of the burglaries, he had been living in the Gabriel House homeless hostel in Exeter. He moved there from a tent in a friend’s back garden in Tiverton.

Maddock was supposed to be in the process of receiving treatment for his drug addiction, which involved him taking smaller doses of heroin. However, he was purchasing up to £100 worth of heroin per week instead.

“The Public Would Be Horrified”

Ms Elizabeth Bussy-Jones, recorder, told him that she had no alternative but to apply most of the previous twelve-month suspended sentence. She went on to say, “The public would be horrified to know the money they intended to go to charity, somebody who was addicted to heroin was stealing it to fund their addiction.”

Prosecuting lawyer Charlotte Ash told the court that the first theft took place on 4th October 2016 at the Apple Store in Princesshay, where Maddock pretended to be interested in iPads but then proceeded to steal the two Apple pencils by placing them up each sleeve. A member of staff witnessed this and informed a manager who managed to recover one from Maddock. The other one fell out while he was being arrested.

Funding His Heroin Addiction

Maddock was granted bail but then was seen on October 11th, 2016 wheeling the wishing well away. Miss Ash commented, “He tried to get access to the money through the metal grill and security guards attended and found him hiding in bushes. The money in the wishing well was due to go to the Exeter Deaf Academy. He made full and frank admissions. He confirmed stealing the wishing well and wheeling it out of sight of the CCTV cameras. He had a change of heart when he realised the purpose of the wishing well. He said he was trying to fund his drug addiction.”

Although Maddock did not have a defence barrister present, he asked the judge to consider his plea that he was finding it hard to cope with the reduced heroin doses he was receiving. He went on to tell the judge that while on remand in Exeter Prison, he has managed to ‘beat’ his heroin addiction and once he is released, he plans to move back to North Devon and find a job.

Maddock’s previous suspended sentence was imposed after he stole from his friends who were allowing him to live in their garden in Tiverton. However, he was luckily spared an immediate sentence after his friends advised the judge that they had forgiven Maddock and were happy for him to continue living in their garden.


It is not uncommon for those who suffer from a severe addiction, to resort to theft or violence to fund their addiction. Many of these people will have lost almost everything – their job, their home and even their families. Consequently, a lot of them will feel as if they have nothing else to lose and turn to drugs as a way of coping. This is not the answer, and anyone who feels as though they are in this position should always look for support. Here at UKAT, we can ensure you have all the support you could need while overcoming your heroin addiction. If you have any further queries or require any more information, then contact us today.

Source:  Man jailed for stealing charity wishing well from Exeter shopping centre (Express & Echo)

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