Drunk burglar hid under table after losing benefit money in Sunderland club’s fruit machine

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A DRUNK burglar hid under a pool table waiting for a social club to close so he could steal back benefits cash he had lost in the fruit machine.

Darren Thoburn gambled his entire £80 fortnightly allowance during a drinking session at the New Ivy Leaf club in Hendon, Sunderland, and felt “justified” in trying to get it back.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 28-year-old caused hundreds of pounds of damage when he smashed his way into the gaming machine once the staff had locked up and left.

After taking £600 in pound coins, Thoburn fled through a fire escape which he left open and allowed raiders to walked in and take away almost £4,000 worth of property.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the club was left on the verge of closure as a result of what was lost that night, which included £800 worth of alcohol, electricals and satellite viewing equipment.

Prosecutor Graham O’Sullivan told the court: “In particular, the club secretary noted the detrimental effect the damage to the satellite receiver was bound to have on the club.

“He said they relied heavily on the revenue from sporting events.

“Being unable to show events at an already struggling club made it difficult to cope with.”

The court heard Thoburn was arrested after his fingerprints were found on the cashbox of the damaged gaming machine.

Mr O’Sullivan said: “He said having been in the bar earlier, having been drinking there, he had lost a considerable amount of money, £80, benefit money, in the machine.

“He then decided he was going to get it back.

“He said he lost £80 of his own money in the machine so felt justified in doing so.”

Dad-of-three Thoburn, of Toward Street West, Hendon, pleaded guilty to burglary.

Alec Burns, defending, said Thoburn was responsible only for smashing in to the gaming machine, but accepts his actions led to others being able to raid the unsecured club.

Mr Burns said: “He lost his entire benefits of £80 in the gaming machine. He had no other money for the next two weeks.

“He decided he had to get it back.”

Mr Burns said Thoburn managed to find a new address and a job after the offence,

Judge Penny Moreland sentenced Thoburn to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and programme requirements.

The judge told him: “The result of what you did that night was there was a question mark over the survival over the Ivy Leaf social club.

“I am very pleased to hear it has managed to survive.

“Your theft and damage caused significant loss.”