NINETY thousand pounds that was found in a derelict property moments before it was due to be torched is set to benefit a range of charities, a court has heard.

As previously reported, the large sum of money was found on March 17, 2015 at a bungalow at Strete Mount in Christchurch - a former residential complex for elderly people. Plans had been submitted to demolish the site to make way for newer properties.

A training drill by firefighters - who asked Sovereign Housing Association to use the property for practice - saw the money discovered.

A number of items of furniture were due to be set alight when officers found a red cooler box containing the cash under a bed.

Representing Dorset Police at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Felicity Payne applied to the court for the money be formally referred to the Police Property Act Fund after officers were unable to identify any owner.

The Police Property Act Fund is a joint fund managed by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable and is distributed to local community and voluntary groups.

David Cash, of Dorset Police’s economic crime unit, told the court that a number of efforts had been made over the past 18 months to find the owner through banking institutions and any known family members of the previous occupant of the bungalow.

Magistrate Fiona McKenna asked Mr Cash: “We have just been questioning why would the money not be the property of the occupant of the building?”

Mr Cash responded: “The occupier was in receipt of benefits. He had no assets to that extent and, given his age and the circumstances that he had moved into those premises, it would be extremely unlikely he had that level of assets on state benefits.”

Miss Payne told the hearing that, despite coverage in the Daily Echo when the incident happened, no one had come forward claiming to own the money.

She added: “If it goes into this fund it can benefit a number of different charities.”

Magistrates were happy to approve the application.