Lowestoft: Take That fans and holidaymakers left in limbo after coach firm boss jailed

CUSTOMERS of a coach tour operator are demanding answers after its owner and two employees were jailed for importing drugs, leaving hundreds of holidays and trips in doubt.

More than 200 Take That fans from the North Suffolk and Great Yarmouth area are among those affected by the problems affecting Lowestoft Travel. Many paid �129 for a single ticket to the gig at Wembley stadium – but all remain in the dark as to whether they will be able to go or receive a refund.

Scores of other customers, who have spent hundreds of pounds on coach holidays in Europe or for trips to see West End shows, are also uncertain as to whether their bookings will ever be honoured.

The problems emerged after the company’s owner, Symon Thorp, 44, was jailed for four years at Canterbury Crown Court on March 15.

His employees, Owen Marshall-Elliot, 68, of Beccles Road, Gorleston, and David Clark, 51, of Rowan Way, Lowestoft, received three-year and two-year jail terms respectively.

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The trio were arrested at Dover on June 29 after customs officials found four holdalls containing 23.9kg of cannabis, with a street value of �68,832, in the main hold of a double decker bus owned by married father-of-four Thorp.

The firm’s telephone line was not working this week, leaving customers unsure if pre-paid trips would go ahead.

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The tickets were bought through two agencies – Music Lovers in Gorleston and Anglia Copy and Print in Yarmouth – which then paid the ticket supplier and coach organiser Lowestoft Travel. However, as yet the company, which has a business address listed as Hopton Timber Estate, Hall Road, Hopton, has not supplied the tickets.

Hundreds of holidaymakers have been booked on coach tours, one of which was due to leave for Spain today. Further coaches are due to head for Italy, Spain and Croatia during the coming months.

Estelle Mann, owner of Anglia Copy and Print, said she had been inundated with calls from customers who had paid as much as �299 for their summer break, and wanted to know what was happening and if they could get a refund.

Many people have made complaints to Norfolk Trading Standards and Norfolk Police, who are investigating.

Roger Webster, owner of Music Lovers, said he was hoping to provide a silver lining for Take That fans as he was speaking to the band’s management about the possibility of making another arrangement to get fans to the gig.

Thorp’s legal counsel Ross Burrows said: “Mr Thorp is extremely anxious that he could be disrupting a number of holidaymakers who have booked through his travel agency.”

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