A MAN who stole a charity box from an Exmoor public house has been jailed following public outrage when police refused to investigate the crime.

The Dorset and Somerset Sir Ambulance box was thought to have contained about £70 when it was taken from the bar of the Royal Oak Inn, Luxborough, in July.

An Avon and Somerset Police ‘desktop investigator’ handled the theft report and told landlord Spencer Braydon-Phillips the force could not investigate because he could not say how much money was in the charity box.

The decision was taken despite Mr Braydon-Phillips giving police a copy of CCTV footage showing the crime happening and even being able to name the thief.

However, police U-turned after the Free Press asked questions about the incident, and the case was re-opened.

Their inquiries eventually resulted in a man appearing in Taunton Deane Magistrates Court charged with the theft of the air ambulance charity collection box.

David Jeal, aged 40, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment.

The magistrates also fined Jeal £124 and ordered him to pay £30 in compensation.