Serial 'dine and dash' conman who fled hotels without paying is jailed

The Bildeston Crown has been named one of the few restaurants with three AA rosettes awarded. Pictur

The Bildeston Crown was targeted by Sharp - Credit: Archant

A serial fraudster who booked expensive rooms at four luxury hotels, racked up large bills for food and alcohol and then left without paying has been jailed. 

Craig Sharp, of Dockfield Avenue, Dovercourt, near Harwich, used his own details to book rooms at three Suffolk hotels and one in Norfolk and left outstanding bills of more than £2,500 in total, magistrates in Ipswich heard. 

Sharp, 49, booked a two-night stay at the Crown in Bildeston on February 25, 2020, using his own name and bank details, and charged food and drink to his room. 

He requested another night's stay, which was granted, but then fled, leaving behind a bill of £494.85, Wayne Ablett, prosecuting, told the court. 

The Swan in Lavenham, the hotel that played a big part in Rachel's story Picture: GREGG BROWN

Sharp racked up a £887.57 bill at the Swan in Lavenham

Sharp then headed to the Swan Hotel in Lavenham on February 27, again booking a room before requesting more nights. 

He did provide a false address in London this time, but still used his own name and bank card, Mr Ablett said. 

Sharp's unpaid bill at the Swan Hotel totalled £887.57. 

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The Brudenell in Aldeburgh was Sharp's next destination, arriving on March 2 and racking up charges of £491.20. 

The Brudenell hotel and two AA Rosette Award Seafood Restaurant

The Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh was also targeted - Credit: Archant

Finally, Sharp called ahead to the Caley Hall Hotel, in Hunstanton, Norfolk, to find out if he could pay on departure. 

When he was told he could, he booked a room on March 16, just before the first Covid-19 lockdown, before asking to extend his stay. 

He told staff he was going out for the day but when his room was checked, all his belongings had gone and he had left his key card, the court heard. 

The Caley Hall Hotel then closed due to the coronavirus pandemic but when it reopened in July, attempts were made to contact Sharp and get him to repay the money. 

Sharp provided bank details to staff but they were rejected, Mr Ablett said. 

Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard that Sharp has a number of previous convictions for similar dishonesty offences dating back to 1990, and was jailed for two years in April 2018. 

The four Suffolk and Norfolk offences were committed while he was on licence, the court heard. 

Sharp pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation on Thursday. 

Paul Baker, representing Sharp, said his client had been caring for his mother and father, who were not in good health, and in February "things just got on top of him" and he needed to get away from home. 

But magistrates felt that the offences did cross the custody threshold and sentenced Sharp to 12 weeks' imprisonment for each offence to run consecutively, meaning he will serve 48 weeks in total. 

He was also ordered to pay compensation in full, a total of £2,579.82, to the four hotels involved. 

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