A WARRANT has been issued for the arrest of a man accused of breaking into a hospice and stealing cash from a charity donations box.

It follows Thomas Bolton Robinson’s failure to attend a hearing at Durham Crown Court today (Friday June 13), when he was due to appear on a charge of burglary with intent to steal from St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in the city.

He is alleged to have taken part in a smash-and-grab raid at the hospice, in the Merryoaks area of Durham, on Wednesday August 14 last year.

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Two intruders were said to have forced their way through the front door of the premises, in Park House Gardens, at about 8.30pm, before smashing open a showcase donations box and stealing about £200 cash.

Apart from the loss of the money, donated by the public to assist running costs of the hospice, an estimated £1,000-worth of damage was caused in the raid.

Twenty-three-year-old Mr Robinson, of Oak Avenue, Sherburn Road Estate, Durham, appeared at the court last month and a provisional date was agreed for a trial in the case, if needed, on Wednesday June 18.

But the case was brought into the list at the court today, when the defendant was to have put in a plea to the charge.

His counsel, Thomas Laffey, told the court that Mr Robinson should have been aware of the hearing and he was unable to offer any explanation for his absence.

“He’s been written to and should have been present. But he’s not here,” added Mr Laffey.

Joanne Kidd, prosecuting, therefore, asked for the issue of a bench warrant for his arrest to ensure Mr Robinson is brought before the court.

As no explanation could be given for his failure to attend, Judge Neil Clark agreed and issued the warrant, not backed with bail.

* Following reports of last August’s break-in, the hospice received a number of offers of assistance.

Its deputy chief executive, Fiona Vallis, said: “The response was overwhelming.

“We were so grateful for all the contributions.

“In fact, the support outweighed the disappointment.”

Newsquest Yorkshire and North-East, publishers of The Northern Echo, donated £200 to cover the approximate amount taken in the raid.

Other offers of support went towards the cost of repairs and replacing the donations box.