Published: 06:00, 12 July 2020
| Updated: 16:47, 16 July 2020
A railway worker found a £15,000 engagement ring on the platform and kept it - despite a media appeal for its return.
Wayne Collins, of Longview way, Tunbridge Wells, was working for Southeastern when a woman dropped the item of jewellery at Tonbridge Railway Station.
In June last year Kate Marfleet was coming through the station after visiting her parents in Ashford when she heard something drop on the floor.
She thought it was a coin, so looked around a little, before making her way to the car park.
When she got in the car she realised she'd lost something far more precious - her engagement ring worth just shy of £15,000.
With the help of a member of staff and her fiancé, Tim, Miss Marfleet searched for the white gold diamond ring for around 20 minutes but couldn't find it.
The following day she contacted KentOnline who published an article in the hope the expensive item would be tracked down.
One man did come forward, claiming he had found the precious diamond in Tonbridge High Street, but it turned out to be a different ring.
Despite all staff having been told a ring was lost, Collins did not come forward.
A police investigation continued until CCTV led them to him.
The 48-year-old was arrested on suspicion of theft by finding on Thursday, August 27.
Appearing at Medway Magistrates' Court yesterdat prosecutor Piers Restell Junior dubbed the case "strange in many respects".
Mr Restell said: "All staff at the station were alerted to the loss of a ring and asked to keep eyes open for it but the defendant did not say anything until he was arrested."
He added how "all the local pawnbrokers had been contacted", as well as the article published in the Kent Messenger.
However, Richard Lamb, defending, said Collins "doesn't read the Kent Messenger, doesn't have Facebook and wasn't aware of the campaign."
He argued although Collins "was aware of the general request by the company to find the ring" he thought a confession would "get him into trouble".
"When he picked up the ring he put it in his pocket but did not intend to keep it. He forgot about it and took it to his mother's house and left it there. He didn't intend to sell it.
"He wanted to become a train driver and thought if he was to turn up at work with the ring it would get him into trouble and he'd have a lot of explaining to do.
"Once he was arrested, he immediately confessed to the whole thing. He is very, very sorry for what has happened.
"He is of good character and has never done anything like this before. He is probably going to lose his job from this so will be punished by that," said Mr Lamb.
Collins pleaded guilty and was given a 12-month community order during which he must do 100 hours of unpaid work.
He must also pay £170 in costs within 14 days.
The magistrates said they understood Collins was sorry, and that it was an "opportunistic theft" but this "didn't really help the victim who lost her ring".
More by this authorRebecca Tuffin
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