Sickening theft of Josh appeal cash

A HUSBAND and wife who campaigned to send a poorly youngster on a trip of a lifetime have been left sickened by “scumbags” after cash for the boy’s appeal was stolen on a night out.

John and Joanne Rogers have appeared in the Mail regularly over recent weeks describing their efforts to raise money to send five-year-old Josh Dawson, who is battling a rare brain tumour, on a dream trip to Legoland USA.

The Mail reported last week how thanks to the incredible generosity of fundraisers, the total collected has reached more than £12,000 – more than double the £5,000 target.

But John and Joanne’s delight has turned to anger after Joanne’s handbag, which contained £65 of donations meant for Josh’s appeal, was stolen while the couple were out socialising.

The couple, from Lawson Road, Seaton Carew, had been to see Chords UK and a friend’s band The Style Selektors at The Studio before deciding to head to The Odd Bar, in Church Street, for a nightcap.

Wedding photographer Joanne, 40, went to freshen up and she left her black leather clutch-style handbag on a chair next to John.

But within seconds the bag, which also contained Joanne’s Samsung PL55 phone, featuring pictures of their five-year-old daughter Lilli-Jo and her classmate Josh, was gone.

Police are appealing for information following the theft, which happened around 1am on Sunday, and officers were due to check CCTV at the premises to help catch the culprit, who John has branded a “scumbag”.

Taxi driver John, 45, said: “It’s sickening.

“We had just been given £65 for Josh’s trip by a very kind nurse, Claire Jeffery, who had raffled off a 6ft cardboard Johnny Depp at her mum and sister’s birthday party.”

Josh’s mum, Michaela Dawson, 46, of Seaton Carew, said: “I don’t know how anyone can do that, it’s absolutely horrible.”

John added: “We don’t normally go down Church Street, but thought we’d pop to the Odd Bar.

“I was stood right beside the bag when it happened.

“It puts you off having a night out in the town when things like that happen.

“It was a fantastic night out ruined by some scumbag.”

The bag, minus its contents, was found dumped nearby.

Josh’s sister Stephanie Burns, 20, had been out with the couple earlier in the evening.

She said: “For someone to do that, it’s sick.”

Inspector Chris Dawber, of Hartlepool Police, said the matter had been reported to the police and PC Andrea Charlton is investigating the incident.

He added that CCTV footage was due to be checked and said: “We would urge anyone who was drinking in The Odd Bar who may have witnessed the incident or anyone who may have seen the bag being dumped to contact us.”

Witnesses are urged to call PC Charlton on (01642) 302126 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.