Court told of eaterie burglary and blaze
WAITER Stuart Bedford burgled his restaurant then torched it to conceal the crime, a court heard.Employees at Ransomes Europark restaurant Fatty Arbuckles described a scene of devastation after they were summoned there in the early hours of November 6 last year.
WAITER Stuart Bedford burgled his restaurant then torched it to conceal the crime, a court heard.
Employees at Ransomes Europark restaurant Fatty Arbuckles described a scene of devastation after they were summoned there in the early hours of November 6 last year.
The cigarette machine had been smashed apart, the fruit machine treated in a similar way and there were shards of broken glass littered on the restaurant floor.
Beer kegs had been left running flooding the restaurant with alcohol.
Bedford, 19, of Ramsgate Drive, Ipswich, denies burglary and arson.
Peter Gair, prosecuting, told jurors the part-time waiter called 999 to report the blaze at around 3am on the day in question.
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Bedford was still near the scene when police arrived. They discovered 23 packs of cigarettes in his rucksack and £81 in pound coins in his pocket.
Mr Gair said officers investigating the blaze and burglary had discovered the cigarette vending machine and fruit machine had both been broken into.
They also discovered none of the restaurant's doors or windows had been forced.
Mr Gair said when Bedford was quizzed about why he had a key to the restaurant in his jacket he could not explain it.
Bedford initially claimed cigarettes had been given to him by a friend who worked at a nearby Burger King and whom he said he shared a drink with after work.
Mr Gair said further police investigation revealed both these claims were lies.
Under questioning by police, Bedford then claimed he had been drinking at the former Ipswich airfield after work and was cycling home when he saw the restaurant open and ablaze.
He claimed he went in and took cigarettes and cash before leaving to call the fire brigade.
Fatty Arbuckle's deputy manager Steven Sudds said he was the first employee on the scene after receiving a call from Bedford.
He described the restaurant as "completely trashed".
He told the court Bedford was a part-time waiter at the restaurant and was not senior enough to be trusted with a key.
Under questioning from Matthew McNiff, defending, Mr Sudds admitted two other staff had left the restaurant under a cloud shortly before the incident. One of them was a key holder.
Mr Sudds admitted some key holders would leave their keys in the office, that keys had been lost in the past, and that unqualified staff would sometimes be told the safe combination.
The trial continues.