A cleaner has told how robbers armed with a crowbar and sledgehammer threatened him, before they tied him up using his boot laces and looted a working men’s club of cash and charity collections.
Two men wearing balaclavas raided the British Rail Sports and Social Club, in St Andrew’s Road, between 7.30am and about 8.15am on Monday.
It has emerged the men hid in a bush and lay in wait for cleaner, Phil Barton, to disable the alarm and open the club before threatening him with a crowbar. They then tied him to a chair using his own boot laces.
Mr Barton, aged 59, told the Chronicle & Echo: “I came in at about 7.30am to do my cleaning. I switched the alarm off and I was confronted by these two people, one was holding a crowbar. They said if I behaved myself I wouldn’t get hurt, but if I tried to do anything they would basically batter me.
“They took my boot laces out and tied me up. They tied me with my hands behind my back before they then tied me to a chair.”
Mr Barton said the pair made him face a wall and then started smashing up the club’s fruit machines and tried to break into the safe during the terrifying 35-minute ordeal.
They left the club with cash from the machines and safe and also stole money which had been collected for Cynthia Spencer Hospice, as well as money which had been saved for the club’s children’s Christmas party.
Mr Barton added: “They were tooled up. They had an angle grinder, they had a drill and the lad who smashed up the fruit machines had a sledgehammer. They were obviously geared up. It lasted about 35 minutes. I just sat there is silence.”
Detectives said the first man was 5ft 6ins, in his 20s, and wearing a white scruffy jacket and a red and white head covering. The second man was black, 6ft, of slim build and was in his 20s. He was wearing a black balaclava, a green parka and blue jogging bottoms. Anyone with informaiton can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.