Pensioner fined €200 for searching for food in bins

Pensioner fined €200 for searching for food in bins
File photo: DPA
A Bavarian pensioner living on just €300 a month has been told he must pay a €200 fine for stealing food from a supermarket bin.

Despite the public prosecutor describing the crime as “a triviality”, the 78-year-old was found guilty and fined by a Mühldorf district court this week.

A passerby spotted the pensioner rummaging through the bins of a local supermarket in December 2015, the Oberbayerische Volksblatt reported. The police were contacted, leading the shop manager to file a complaint for trespassing and theft.

The case was then delayed while the defendant underwent a psychiatric assessment. But despite reportedly showing symptoms of dementia, he was found to be fully criminally liable.

His lawyer pleaded for a non-guilty verdict on the grounds that the bins were fully accessible, and due to the man's precarious personal situation.

The 78-year-old had fallen into a “downward spiral” following a divorce, his lawyer argued, and lived off just €300 each month.

His lawyer said that the consequences of a punishment would be disproportionate to the crime, and that her client would be unable to afford to pay a fine.

However, due to the fact that the defendant had over 20 previous convictions, he was handed a guilty verdict and ordered to pay the €200.

The case in Bavaria contrasts with a landmark ruling in Italy last year, where the country's highest court ruled that it is not a crime to steal food if the defendant is hungry and poor and the amount stolen is small.

After a five-year appeals process, the defendant in that case was let off the punishment of six months in jail and a €100 fine, which he had originally been given for stealing food worth €4.07 from a supermarket in Genoa, northern Italy.

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