A BAR manager who set up a raid at his club after a fall out with his bosses has walked free from court.
Anthony Harrison drafted in “career criminal” Paul Patton to break into the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Houghton and targeted more than £3,000 in takings.
Newcastle Crown Court heard after serial burglar Patton had broken into the club in the early hours and made off with the cash he sent Harrison a text boasting “I’ve got a treat for you”.
Prosecutor Christopher Rose told the court Harrison believed his job at the club was under threat and his relationship with his bosses was “difficult” when he facilitated the break-in on November 27, 2013.
The court heard a funeral had taken place that day and Harrison put the unusually-high weekly takings in a portable safe in the bar, rather than the secure safe in the cellar where they should have been kept.
Patton had been drinking in the bar that night and smashed his way back in through a patio door after closing time, when everyone else had gone.
His finger print was found at the scene and when detectives trawled telephone records they proved the link between him and Harrison.
Harrison, 25, of Sutherland Grange, New Herrington, and Patton, 39, of Cambridge Road, Silksworth, Sunderland, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
Patton admitted an unrelated charge of producing cannabis after an £8,000 farm was found growing in his home.
Lee Fish, defending, said Harrison has paid all the money back that was taken and has gained nothing through the offence.
He said: “He set it up, he facilitated the commission of the offence, but he did not in fact receive a penny from the commission of the offence.”
Mr Fish said Harrison’s life was in danger of “spiralling out of control”, but he has now set up his own business and is back on track.
Stuart Graham, defending Patton, said the serial raider is ready to turn his back on crime as the “watershed” of his 40th birthday approaches and he wants to support his family through legitimate work.
He said: “The reason behind the offending was because Christmas was coming up and he wanted something for the children.”
Mr Recorder Andrew Baker QC sentenced Harrison to a community order for 12 months with supervision and 80 hours’ unpaid work.
The judge said he was convinced the businessman’s involvement in crime was a “one-off”.
Patton was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision, 120 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,900 costs.
The judge told him: “You are substantially more at fault, substantially more to blame for this episode.”