Missing landlord due in court

MISSING pub landlord Andrew Ross is due to appear in court, the Evening Star can reveal today.Mr Ross, landlord of the Inkerman pub in Norwich Road, Ipswich, disappeared without trace on Friday night.

A PUB manager being sought by police and his bosses today, and a 29-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of theft.

Andrew Ross of the Inkerman pub in Norwich Road, Ipswich, did not appear for work on Friday night.

His girlfriend Samantha had also not been seen.

A police spokesman said today: "We are investigating a report from a chain of inns, that a landlord has gone missing.

"A 29-year-old female has been arrested on suspicion of theft, and bailed to return to Ipswich Police Station on January 14."

To abide by licensing laws, the pub had to close over the weekend, until a temporary manager was appointed at a crisis meeting at the premises yesterday .

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Mr Ross appeared before magistrates in Ipswich last Thursday, charged with selling liquor outside permitted hours on September 15.

That was the date of the Ipswich-Norwich derby clash at Portman Road, when the Blues drew 1-1.

Solicitor Hugh Rowland, defending, made an application in court for an adjournment due to "exceptional circumstances."

Mr Ross, 37, said in court that he wanted an adjournment, but ideally wanted the matter sorted out before Christmas.

The case was adjourned to January 8 at 11am.

The next day the pub closed its doors at 7.30pm, and customers then had to leave the premises, not knowing what had happened to Mr Ross and his girlfriend Samantha.

Pubmaster, the company which owns the pub, has confirmed Mr Ross had left The Inkerman, and bosses were trying to locate him.

She added: "We are aware that some customers have expressed concerns about money, and we are investigating these."

Customers told the Evening Star they were concerned about the proceeds in their Christmas club.

One of the pub's regulars, who did not want to be named, said: "I went down there at about 6.55pm on Friday to get my money.

"The barmaid told me the landlord had gone and the pub had to shut at 7.30pm.

"I should imagine a rough estimate for the total is £18,000 to £20,000.

"I only had £400 in there but I was talking to a couple of people who had put in £1,000.

"One bloke was going out today to get presents for his wife and kids. He was totally gutted. Everybody is."

Michael Collins, landlord at McGinty's and chairman of Ipswich Pubwatch, said: "One customer told me he had lost £1,500 and another lost £800. One said a friend had lost £3,000."

The Christmas club is believed to have as many as 49 members.

Members' concerns follow £21,000 being stolen from another Christmas club run by Steve Roberts, with members at the Manor Ballroom Club and the Port of Felixstowe.

After the £21,000 was stolen from Mr Roberts' home at Orwell Gardens, Chantry, Ipswich on December 6, crime prevention advice was issued by the authorities.

Suffolk Police said their concern is in large sums of money being held in an organiser's home, and Trading Standards officers also urged caution to those dealing with large sums of money, and said members handed over cash, relying only on trust.

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