A HELP For Heroes conman was caught on a train with a collection tin for the charity he was not supposed to have.

Former soldier Robert Santangelo had been struck off by the charity, but a court heard how rail staff saw him with the collection tin on a train.

Santangelo was drinking at the time and was asked by railway enforcement officer Aragorn Davis if he had permission to collect.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard the 41-year-old became abusive and told Mr Davis “what’s it got to do with you?”.

The train left Weeley and police arrested him at Thorpe le Soken.

Carolyn Gardiner, prosecuting, said a police probe found Santangelo had been banned from collecting for the charity. He was struck off by Help for Heroes as he had been collecting in Devon and Cornwall while drunk, the court heard.

Santangelo claimed he had served in the Parachute Regiment in Rwanda, but Miss Gardiner said he was in prison at the time the regiment was there.

Santangelo, of Cromwell Road, Colchester, appeared in court wearing a Parachute Regiment tie and wearing two Help for Heroes wristbands.

He admitted two charges of fraud and threatening behaviour on December 3 last year.

The other fraud three months earlier in September involved Santangelo trying to use a fake probation warrant to get a rail ticket to Newquay,worth £360.

The court heard Santangelo had numerous previous convictions for theft, damaging property, threatening behaviour, drugs posession, assault and harassment.

David Howell, mitigating, said Santangelo’s problems stemmed from drug and alcohol abuse.

He was now taking serious steps to deal with his problems, Mr Howell said.

Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC told Santangelo he was giving him a chance and deferred sentence for six months, and warned him he faced prison if he offended during this time.

Santangelo told the judge: “I would like to thank you for the leniency you have shown me. When you next see me, I will be a better person.”

Santangelo will return to court in October.