Burglar drank wine and pink gin after raiding South Shields pub The Criterion during lockdown

A burglar who drank bottles of wine and spirits after taking them from a town centre pub which was shut during lockdown has been jailed.

Jonathon Olley, 34, broke into The Criterion in Ocean Road, South Shields, in the early hours of the morning where he stole the alcohol, an iPad, and a cheque book.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the pub's manager realised the next day there were empty bottles and an open window upstairs.

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Prosecutor Neil Jones described to the court how events unfolded.

The Criterion was burgled during lockdown.The Criterion was burgled during lockdown.
The Criterion was burgled during lockdown.

He said: "On the 17th of March 2021, the licensee of the pub was at his premises which had been shut down since the beginning of the second lockdown in the autumn of 2020.

"On the 16th of March the licensee checked the premises of which were secure and in order since he was in habit of checking daily.

"He went back to it on the following day. At that time there appears to have been scaffolding around the ground floor.

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"He noticed a window on the first floor had been broken. He saw a number of bottles of wine and spirits on the scaffolding.

Jonathon Olley.Jonathon Olley.
Jonathon Olley.

"Two of those were empty and there was a half empty bottle of pink gin. It was clear to him the wine and spirits had been from inside the pub.

"There were CCTV cameras which appeared to be snapped and unplugged and they were located in the pub.

"The CCTV, although it seemed to be unplugged, did function to some extent and did hold images on them of a male with a beard entering at 2:30 in the morning."

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The court heard how Olley, who has previous convictions, was arrested the following month and later pleaded guilty to burglary other than a dwelling.

The Criterion, Ocean Road.The Criterion, Ocean Road.
The Criterion, Ocean Road.

Mr Jones said that the iPad and the cheque book were returned, and that Olley, formally of Prince Consort Road in Hebburn, committed the offence at the pub alone.

In mitigation, Fiona Lamb told the court that her client had suffered from anxiety and that he had a good record of employment while trying to curb his drink issues.

Judge Sarah Mallet acknowledged his mitigating factors but said a prison sentence could not be avoided, and she jailed him for seven weeks.

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The judge told him: "The iPad was returned to the licensee as was the chequebook.

"You note this was during a very difficult time for this pub, you are aware of that and I accept you are remorseful.

"You have a good job and you have played football at a high level and you realise the problem alcohol has caused for you.

"The offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified."

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Speaking during the hearing, Olley said from the dock: "I just want to say I'm sorry for everything that I've ever done.

"This happened a long time ago and I'm not that same person. All I want to do is try sort my life out, that's all I want to do."

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