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Ilfracombe hotel owner 'rugby tackled' burglar to detain him

By NDJJoel  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

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Paul Crack arriving at North Devon Magistrates' Court

A HOTELIER rugby tackled a burglar and held him in a headlock for two minutes, a court has heard.

Raynor Wells, owner of the Grosvenor Hotel in Ilfracombe, discovered a man wearing a balaclava when he went into work to do some routine admin work.

When the burglar tried to make a break for it, Mr Wells chased after him, rugby tackled him to the ground and held him down until he stopped struggling.

Paul Neville Crack, 41, of High Street in Ilfracombe, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal at North Devon Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard Mr Wells discovered Crack in an office at the empty hotel, which was closed at the time.

Lyndsey Baker, for the prosecution, said Crack tried to talk his way out of the situation.

She said: “Mr Wells put him in a headlock for about two minutes until he stopped struggling.

“He pushed Crack into a corner and called the police.

“Crack pulled the phone line out of the wall during the conversation but Mr Wells reinserted it and called them again.”

Miss Baker said Crack then tried to run away up a side road next to the hotel but was chased and rugby tackled by Mr Wells.

The police attended and arrested Crack. At interview he said he was one of three people who had entered the building.

The court heard Crack had 31 previous convictions, seven of which were for burglary.

Tony Dart, for the defence, said Crack admitted he was caught red-handed trespassing on the property but denied he had planned to steal anything.

Mr Dart said: “He was a lookout for three other people who he feels have set him up.

“Police searched the premises but didn’t find anyone else.

“He also denies wearing a balaclava, he says it was a beanie hat.”

The court heard Crack suffers from depression and anxiety and is also receiving treatment for substance misuse.

The case was adjourned for a probation report until February 22.

Crack was released on conditional bail and told not to contact Raynor Wells, not to attend the Grosvenor Hotela and to abide by a curfew from 6pm to 6am.

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