MARCH: Opportunist thief in court for stealing £165 from INSIDE top security Whitemoor Prison

PUBLISHED: 15:34 29 July 2008 | UPDATED: 08:33 02 June 2010

AN opportunist thief stole £165 from an unlocked cash box inside Whitemoor Prison while visiting an inmate. Benjamin Fitzsimmons answered a phone he heard ringing in the reception office of the maximum-security prison, where he discovered the unlocked box

AN opportunist thief stole £165 from an unlocked cash box inside Whitemoor Prison while visiting an inmate.

Benjamin Fitzsimmons answered a phone he heard ringing in the reception office of the maximum-security prison, where he discovered the unlocked box.

He took the £165 and hid it in bushes close to the March prison to collect when he left - but he was caught recovering the money.

Fitzsimmons, 30, of Freme Close, Liverpool, admitted burgling the prison when he visited on July 14.

Fenland Magistrates' Court heard today that Fitzsimmons had travelled from Liverpool on a prison visit and answered the phone while waiting in the reception area.

Andrew Williams, prosecuting, said: "Whilst in there he found an unlocked cash box. He took the money and hid it in bushes intending to recover it later. Witnesses, however, saw him recovering the money."

Fitzsimmons was detained after being caught and admitted taking the money from the office.

Tim Bartlam, defending, described the burglary as "an opportunist crime".

Mr Bartlam said: "The police originally charged him with theft, which probably would have been acceptable in a lot of cases.

"But when the Crown Prosecution Service looked at the case, it ruled that it was a burglary. It was an opportunist crime - someone going into an office."

Mr Williams also told the court that Fitzsimmons was in breach of a conditional discharge, imposed in April by Liverpool magistrates for handling stolen goods.

Fitzsimmons will be sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates' Court on August 26, after Mr Bartlam pleaded with magistrates to transfer the case.

"His previous matters have been dealt with in Liverpool," said Mr Bartlam. "He is anxious that the court leaves the sentencing to his home court because of the conditional discharge."

Margaret Angood, chair of the bench, granted the move and told Fitzsimmons: "It is going to be a lot more practical and sensible to have your sentencing dealt with in Liverpool."

Fitzsimmons was also granted unconditional bail.

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