A THIEF has admitted plundering a charity box and stealing cash from Oxfordshire’s historic Dorchester Abbey.

Martin Baynard, of Peppard Road in Emmer Green, Reading, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft at the abbey at Oxford Magistrates’ Court today.

The 68-year old stole around £120 between July and August.

On each occasion, the court heard, he ‘fished’ a metal rod into a charity box before extracting donated notes with an attached adhesive.

He was finally rumbled after he was recognised and seen to enter the abbey on CCTV on September 5.

Explaining his actions while unrepresented at court Baynard told magistrates that he had ‘given in to temptation'.

He said: “I went to the abbey and had a look around and as you go out you can see the notes in a clear perspex container.

“I don’t know why – I have never been tempted before, but this time temptation got the better of me.”

Asked why he had gone back to steal the cash on numerous occasions he told magistrates that he didn’t know but that he had gotten away with it the first time so he carried on.

Baynard added that he hoped to be allowed to return to the abbey again, a venue he has visited many times.

Presiding magistrate Chris Ballinger sentenced him to a community order for 12 months to include 100 hours of unpaid work.

He must also pay the abbey compensation totalling £120, as well as court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £85.