TWO Basingstoke men have been sentenced to suspended jail terms for stealing money collected for a teenage girl at her mother’s funeral.

Louis Moroncini and Jordan Moore took £700 from a drawer in Marianna Turner’s bedroom, after they went to her home in Kenilworth Road, Winklebury, following a night out in Basingstoke. The two men appeared at Winchester Crown Court for sentencing, following a trial in which they were cleared of robbery, but admitted stealing £700 and pleaded guilty to theft.

The court heard at the trial that Miss Turner had been left £1,188 of trust money when she was four. It had been collected at her mother’s funeral, but she was only able to access the funds on July 7, 2012 – her 18th birthday. That night she went to Bar Rock, in Winchester Street, Basingstoke, with friends, to celebrate her birthday, and she was introduced to the two defendants.

Michael Butt, prosecuting, said the defendants accompanied Miss Turner back to her home in Kenilworth Road, Winklebury, adding: “They were sitting on her bed while she was in the toilet and saw the money in the drawer, helped themselves to it and ran away.”

Defending 22-year-old Moroncini, of Guernsey Close, Popley, Robert Bolton said his client was starting work with an agency. He suggested a trial could have been avoided, adding: “There’s a lot of evidence that doesn’t support her case.”

Priya Dave, defending Moore, of London Road, Eastrop, said: “He said he was disgusted with his actions.”

She added: “The money was returned shortly after it was taken. This will be his first, and last, conviction. He’s a young man of 21 years. The incident was spontaneous.”

Judge Guy Boney said he could not be sure why the two men went to Miss Turner’s home. He sentenced them both to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, ordered them to pay £150 compensation each, and carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community, to be completed within 12 months. He said: “You both stole a significant amount of money from a young girl who you met in a nightclub and who clearly drank too much.”

The judge added: “She was vulnerable and you took advantage of that and you stole an amount of money, which may not be very large in the scale of theft, but it was clearly a large amount for her to lose.”