A jobless man stole two Poppy Appeal collection tins in Fleet because his benefits had been cut, a court was told.

Leonard Dicker took the collection boxes from McDonald's restaurant and the Shell petrol station , both in Fleet Road, on October 29 last year.

The 36-year-old appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Thursday February 6 to be sentenced for the thefts, along with a charge of criminal damage and one of behaving violently in a police station.

The court was told Dicker admitted the theft charges at Aldershot magistrates on January 16 but because he was in breach of a suspended sentence the matter was sent up to the crown court.

Edward Elton, prosecuting, said the amount of money in the collection tins was unknown.

The thefts caused outrage at the time as many were preparing to mark Remembrance Day to honour, commemorate and celebrate the efforts, achievements and sacrifices of war heroes.

Mr Elton said that on December 12 last year, Dicker was put in a cell at Basingstoke police station after being arrested for another matter.

He told one officer: "Wait until you see the treat I've left you."

Mr Elton said 'faecal matter' was found on the floor and Dicker twice urinated in the cell.

When a police officer went to interview Dicker, who had 42 previous convictions, he threatened to bite his nose and face off and slit his throat.

John Evans, defending, said his client stole the collection tins because there had been a problem with his benefits, which had been reduced to £50 a fortnight.

He had no one to borrow money from so took the tins rather than shoplift.

Judge Mr Recorder Foster branded Dicker a 'substantial nuisance' who had committed 'thoroughly nasty' offences.

Dicker, of Pinkerton Road in Basingstoke, pleaded guilty to two charges of theft, one of criminal damage and one of behaving violently in a police station.

He was given a 12-month community order, told to attend 20 sessions of a thinking skills programme and ordered to undertake 40 hours of unpaid work.