A CRIMINAL who is already serving time for drug offences has had his stay in prison extended after he was sentenced for breaking into a popular town centre pub.

Paul Almond, who is serving a 16-week sentence for possession of heroin, was ordered to stay in prison for a further four weeks after appearing before Preston Crown Court this week.

The charges date back to March 2019, when the 41-year-old broke into the Swan Pub in Accrington before recruiting an accomplice to help him steal cash and booze.

Prosecuting, Fiona McNeil told the court the defendant had originally pleaded not guilty to breaking into the premises and the counts of theft but changed his plea before the case went to trial.

She said: “The landlady left the property secure on the evening of March 9 but when she returned at around 10.40am the next morning she noticed a side window had been prised open and access to the property gained.

“She noticed several items had been moved or taken. CCTV was obtained and that showed a male entering the property at 3.14am. He gained access to the bar and this male was identified as the defendant.

“He’s then seeing removing cash from behind the counter and leaving the public house before returning at 5.30am with another man and they set about stealing other items from the pub.

“In total 10 spirits were removed – valued at £250. Computer equipment – two laptops and two hard drives with a value of £300 were taken. The fruit machine was broken into and around £200 was taken along other cash amounting to an additional £370. A bottle of Jack Daniels containing coins to the value of around £140 was also taken.

“He was later seen on CCTV using a Coinstar machine in a local Tesco to cash in a quantity of change. He was arrested and gave a prepared statement where he denied the allegation.”

Defending Almond, Mark Stuart said his client was making good process in getting clean from drugs and had entered a guilty plea entitling him to credit.

Sentencing Almond to 20 weeks in prison, to run concurrent to his 16-week spell which was imposed by magistrates, Recorder Christopher Hudson said: “This was a shocking offence in reality. When you think about it, the poor landlady of that pub had tidied and closed up, went home thinking ‘I’ve done a hard decent day’s work and I’ve provided a service’ and then two chaps break in, do a degree of damage and disruption.

“When she came in the next morning I can’t think what she must have thought when opening the door, walking in and seeing her pub had been violated.

“I can’t say this is a particularly serious offence, but it is a very mean one.

“Ultimately, you had the decency to plead guilty, you have a good pre-sentence report and your barrister has argued on your behalf saying you’ve turned a corner and that you’re trying to get yourself clean.”