Man who burgled South Norfolk social club ordered to pay back £8,280

From left, John Sparks, trustee, Denise Howard, bar manager, and chairman John Fitchew outside the W

From left, John Sparks, trustee, Denise Howard, bar manager, and chairman John Fitchew outside the Woodland Social Club in Tacolneston. Picture: Simon Parkin - Credit: Simon Parkin

Officials at a South Norfolk social club have expressed their disappointment that a man who broke in, stole more than £2,000 and trashed the premises causing more than £5,000 of damage has received a suspended sentence.

Damage from the burglary at Woodland Social Club. Picture: John Fitchew

Damage from the burglary at Woodland Social Club. Picture: John Fitchew - Credit: Archant

Norwich Magistrates heard Matthew Coward, 33, broke into the Woodland Social Club, in Tacolneston, and as well as cash being stolen, the clubhouse was vandalised, with the fruit machine and pool table damaged, bottles smashed and a door kicked in.

Denise Holland, prosecuting, said the total cost to the club amounted to £8,280.

Coward was arrested after his blood was left at the scene, although he claimed he had been with others and drunk when he broke in and never got any of the stolen cash.

Damage from the burglary at Woodland Social Club. Picture: John Fitchew

Damage from the burglary at Woodland Social Club. Picture: John Fitchew - Credit: Archant

John Fitchew, chairman of the Woodland Club, said: 'It was a mess when we discovered it on the Saturday morning. He had smashed up the fruit machine and the pool table. We have two safes and he had managed to smash the padlocks.


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The doors and locks were damaged where he had forced his way in, but they found some blood that he had left on the fruit machine and the police said they could get a DNA match from it.'

Coward, of no fixed address, admitted the burglary on April 14 and criminal damage. He also admitted failing to appear for his court appearance on June 13. Coward also admitted theft by an employee while working as a courier for Roadrunner Express, in Norwich, as he stole a package containing mobile phones worth £662.

The Woodland Club in Tacolneston. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Woodland Club in Tacolneston. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

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The court heard that Coward had a previous conviction for stealing from an employer in 2016.

After hearing that Coward was getting his life back together with his partner and had obtained another job, magistrates jailed Coward for 42 weeks suspended for two years and ordered him to pay back the social club £8,280.

He was also ordered to pay £662 back to the courier company and pay £85 costs and £115 surcharge and was given 120 hours unpaid work.

Damage from the burglary at Woodland Social Club. Picture: John Fitchew

Damage from the burglary at Woodland Social Club. Picture: John Fitchew - Credit: John Fitchew

Mr Fitchew said: 'We are lucky that everyone pitched in to help clear up with mess and really rally around. We opened that Saturday night and muddled through with people helping out.'

Sally Dale, for Coward, said that he had been under financial pressures at the time and on the night of the break-in had been out drinking.

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