A FIREFIGHTER has walked away from court after stealing more than £4,000 from a Lewisham scout group.

William Burtt, of Baring Road, Lee, was the group leader for the 16th Lewisham South Scout Group when he swiped £4,390 between August 4 2011 and January 9 this year.

The 27-year-old was given a 12-month community order which includes performing 240 hours of unpaid work at Bromley Magistrates’ Court on May 22.

Burtt, whose wife was treasurer of the group, previously admitted writing cheques to himself from the scout bank account but claims he "didn’t know why", the court heard.

The Scout Association has slammed Burtt's actions and says it is "extremely disappointed" in the betrayal of trust and he will "never" work with the organisation again.

The former firefighter at Bethnal Green, who lives near St Augustine’s Church where the scout group is based, has been suspended from his duties while he is internally investigated by the brigade.

Prosecuting, Mubeena Lockar-Khan told the court: "He wrote cheques to himself from this bank account and kept them for his own use.

"He stated he didn’t know what he spent it on. The first time he had bills to pay, he didn’t really know why after that."

Mitigating, Helen Churchill said: "He would desperately wish to come here and say this is ‘why I did it’.

"He is having counselling. He is utterly devastated. He readily accepts it is a gross breach of trust on his part and he offers his apologies. "It is a thorough shame that we are all here dealing with Mr Burtt and no-one feels that more than him."

Burtt, who has paid back the stolen money, pleaded guilty to theft of £4,390 at an earlier hearing at Bromley Magistrates’ Court on May 17.

Sentencing him, Judge Irena Crosby said: "At first blush, a breach of trust would mean going to the crown court but having taken everything that I have learnt about you, I am not going to commit you.

"It is a tragedy for you that you have lost your good name and now maybe your career."

Burtt was also ordered to pay £145 costs.

A Scout Association spokesman said: "We are extremely disappointed that Burtt had betrayed the trust placed in him by the Scout Movement.

"The Scout Association has strict rules around financial matters and governance and Burtt clearly broke these rules."

He added: "Burtt will never be allowed to work with the organisation again."