Raider behind bars after lockdown attacks on golf clubs

by | Sep 17, 2021 | Golf Courses

Robert Wall

The elite Close House, Chester-le-Street and Ponteland golf courses were targeted last April when the country was hit by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Newcastle Crown Court heard a gang of burglars use specially purchased cars and vans to target the courses and steal valuable goods, trophies and clothing.

The raids caused devastation in troubled times.

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John Croft

Attorney Graham O’Sullivan told the court that the Close House in Heddon on the Wall, Northumberland, was attacked on April 2nd when the clubhouse was rammed.

Around £ 16,000 of property was confiscated and £ 6,000 in damage caused.

Mr. O’Sullivan added, “A total of an estimated £ 50,000 was spent on improved safety and insurance.”

The court heard the Chester le Street Golf Club three days later.

Geoffrey Croft.

Mr. O’Sullivan said, “Two men carried out the break-in, broke into the clubhouse and used a hammer to smash a trophy cabinet and take trophies.”

The court heard that the historical trophies were worth around £ 12,000 and that many of the items had sentimental value to the club and its members.

Some of them were later recovered after they were found in the River Wear.

The Ponteland Golf Club was targeted on April 12th.

Mr O’Sullivan said the robbers bought a flatbed truck earlier that day, adding, “It was turned into a wall of the golf shop and caused great damage, taking away £ 20,000 of equipment and goods.

“The damage done was over £ 5,000.”

The court heard John Croft, who was one of the robbers, and another man was also seen acting “suspiciously” at Morpeth Golf Club, but it was not broken into.

Today Robert Wall, 32, of Stamfordham Road, Newcastle, who admitted being involved in a break-in and two tampering, is sentenced to two years in prison.

His attorney, Jamie Adams, said Wall, a former soldier, has “made progress” since joining the crime and “now hardly drinks”.

Unsettled Croft, who grew up in Newcastle and Jarrow, admitted a plot to break into the house.

He also admitted driving dangerously a van in Newcastle, which he rammed into a police car and injured an officer.

Croft admitted being blackmailed and had an offensive weapon after taking a 50 pound cab ride, then told the driver that he would not pay while armed with an ankle duster.

And he pleaded guilty to two quarrel charges and one of possession of an assault weapon after he and his brother Geoffrey Croft, 31, showed up at a house in

Sunderland on April 28th last year because the sibling said he owed money.

John Croft was imprisoned for a total of seven years and ten months.

Geoffrey Croft of Chaplin Street in Seaham admitted two brawl charges.

Jonathan Pigford, who defended John Croft, said the serial criminal “got lost” while committing the crimes that lacked “sophistication” and had no intent to cause harm.

Robin Patton, who defended Geoffrey Croft, said although the brothers share the same surname and father, they were raised separately.

Mr Patton said Geoffrey Croft was staying out of anger, had a good job record and that his brother moved in with him after his last release from prison.

Geoffrey Croft was sentenced to 18 months in prison with a 21-month probationary term.