Landlord's friend tells of anger

A FORMER drinking friend of light-fingered Ipswich pub landlord Andrew Ross today spoke of his anger at the man who ruined a Christmas for so many people.

A FORMER drinking friend of light-fingered Ipswich pub landlord Andrew Ross today spoke of his anger at the man who ruined a Christmas for so many people.

Charles Eaton, of Bulwer Road, Ipswich, was left more than £3,000 out of pocket after Ross, 38, went on the run with thousands of pounds of his customers' money.

Yesterday, at magistrates in Ipswich, Ross admitted the theft of the Christmas club cash and also to taking a customer's Vauxhall Cavalier car. He will now be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court.

Like many other punters, Mr Eaton had invested his hard-earned cash into the savings scheme being run at The Inkerman pub, in Norwich Road.

But he was left out of pocket after Ross disappeared with the proceeds in December 2002.

Mr Eaton, a 60-year-old retired builder, claims he lost more than £3,000.

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Although Ross went missing for nearly 18 months, Mr Eaton said feelings against him are as strong as ever.

He said: "I couldn't believe it he did it but I'll never forget. I hope he goes down big time for this.

"I've never wished that on anyone in my life but I do with him. I live on my own but I really felt for the people who have got children. They had no money left to buy toys for their children at Christmas.

"He robbed me but what he doesn't realise is he also robbed children.

"I've got 12 grandchildren and I buy presents for all of them. I still managed to do it that year but it was a struggle and I wasn't able to give them as much as usual.

"It was like taking sweets of them and that's why I can never forget."

Mr Eaton added Ross' disappearance had come as complete shock to everyone at the pub.

He said: "No one knew anything about it. I was there on the Thursday night having a drink and he was running about the pub full of beans like he usually did. He was always laughing and having a joke.

"But then it came to Friday, December 13, when we were due to collect our money, and he had disappeared.

"I was devastated, completely gutted. I saw him as family and if I'd ever needed anything he would always sort me out.

"He was one of the boys. Nothing was too much trouble for him."

Ross, a keen Sunderland fan, was arrested on May 31 in Basingstoke and brought back to Suffolk.

He had been on the run since December 2002, when it was discovered Christmas club monies had gone missing.

Suffolk detectives eventually tracked him down after launching further appeals in Norfolk, Kent and Northumbria.

Were you fleeced by Ross? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or join the forum at www.evneingstar.co.uk

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