A PAIR of industrial cleaners barricaded themselves inside a social club they had burgled before trying to flee from police who were circling the building.
Malcolm Lindsay, 38, and 44-year-old accomplice Melvyn Daniel broke into the Whitehouse in Washington on February 8, Sunderland magistrates heard.
Now the pair have been given suspended jail sentences after both admitted burglary and assault.
Prosecutor John McGlone said police were called to the premises in Blackfell Village at 5.26am by the club’s manager Mark Grey after he was woken up by banging and shouting downstairs.
Officers with police dogs circled the property and Lindsay and Daniel suddenly appeared through a rear fire exit door and ran off, Mr McGlone said.
“Mr Daniel was carrying a long-handled lever bar tool,” he added. “Mr Lindsay was wearing a balaclava and Mr Daniel was covering his face with gloves.”
An officer was assaulted in the struggle to arrest Lindsay, of Langley Close, Oxclose, and Daniel, of Stridingedge, Blackfell, both Washington.
In a victim statement, Mr Grey said he feared for the future of the club after a string of burglaries.
“The club is struggling in any event,” he said. “This is the fourth burglary we have had. It may well be the death-knell of the club.”
Philippa Wylie, defending the pair, said: “Both defendants were in the vicinity in the early hours of the morning. They have gone past the club and noticed that the doors were open. They have used that to spontaneously go into the club and steal any alcohol and if there was any money lying around they would take that also. They didn’t do that, police were called as soon as Mr Grey heard the noise.
“They were in there seven minutes and dispute they caused any damage to the building. I would perhaps suggest that someone has been in there before them. There was no damage to the external doors which suggests that the door was open previously.”
Both men were sentenced to 20 weeks in custody, suspended for a year, and were each told to pay £85 costs, £80 surcharge and £60 in compensation to the pub. Lindsay was also given a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement and a 30-day activity programme, while Daniel was given a 20 day activity requirement.