Landlord who stole Christmas cash jailed

A FORMER pub landlord who stole more than £4,000 from his customers' Christmas Club fund has been jailed for 12 months.Andrew Ross, 38, stole £4,718 in customer Christmas savings while managing the Inkerman pub in Norwich Road, Ipswich, in December 2002.

By Danielle Nuttall

A FORMER pub landlord who stole more than £4,000 from his customers' Christmas Club fund has been jailed for 12 months.

Andrew Ross, 38, stole £4,718 in customer Christmas savings while managing the Inkerman pub in Norwich Road, Ipswich, in December 2002.

He also admitted stealing £2,401 in pub takings and a customer's Vauxhall Cavalier, which he used to flee to his home town of Sunderland.

Ross, who formerly lived in a flat at the pub, was yesterday jailed for a total of 12 months for the offences - eight for stealing the takings, four for the theft of the car and 12 for stealing the Christmas Club cash, all to run concurrently.

He was also ordered to pay £4,718 compensation to the customers left out of pocket and £150 towards prosecution costs.

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Judge John Bevan, QC, told the defendant: "I do not know whether you are ashamed or not. You were in a position of trust as the landlord of the Inkerman pub as having been there for six to seven years.

"You abused the trust placed on you and stole £2,400-odd pounds from them. Worse, in my view, is the breach of trust to those who put a lot of money into the Christmas Club.

"That's a gross breach of trust to the customers who looked up to you as their landlord."

Ian Francis, prosecuting, told Ipswich Crown Court Ross had managed the Inkerman since 1996.

He said staff at the pub first became aware something was wrong on December 11 when the account workers realised Ross had not banked the preceding week's takings.

The pub's area manager attempted to contact him several times by phone but failed and then he received a text message from Ross on December 12 in which he stated he had forgotten to bank the takings, he added.

Mr Francis said the area manager tried to contact the defendant again but failed and decided to visit the pub the next day where he discovered it was closed.

A day later the defendant contacted him to say he would be returning the keys via another person.

When the area manager finally entered the pub, the cash was missing and he noticed Ross's flat was empty.

Mr Francis said the defendant borrowed a Vauxhall Cavalier from a customer on December 12 but never returned it.

Police launched a huge search and the defendant was finally tracked down in Basingstoke on May 31.

Mark Roochove, defending, told the judge his client was ashamed of what he had done and the devastating effect it had had on the people who had saved throughout the year with the Christmas Club.

Mr Roochove said Ross regularly held events at the pub that he funded from the Christmas Club money, with this cash being returned from the money made at the various functions.

"There was a shortfall and unfortunately he left it too late to apply for a personal bank loan," said Mr Roochove.

"He, realising that he was in difficulty of meeting those obligations, accepts he took the cowardly decision to leave the area taking with him the money he should have given to the brewery."

The barrister told the court that after leaving Ipswich, Ross had returned to his birthplace of Sunderland to take a job in construction.

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