Police have spoken out after two men were today jailed for a £300k wrecking spree at Thwaites Brewery.
Thomas and John Ward of Aspull Common, Leigh, were today jailed for more than eight years.
Patrick Ward was found guilty in his absence and is still wanted by police.
Speaking outside court, Superintendent Andrea Barrow from Blackburn Police said: “We promised we would seek justice for Thwaites, their staff and the public and we have carried out a thorough investigation which has led to today’s positive result.
“When Thwaites’ staff entered their place of work on Monday 28 May, they were met with scenes of utter devastation. Not only had lots of equipment and alcohol been stolen, the power had been cut, windows had been smashed, office furniture damaged, food had been thrown over floors and a water cooler had been tipped over causing flooding. Employee’s personal possessions had literally been scattered around and 1,700 pints of beer had to be thrown away.
“It was extremely upsetting for Thwaites staff who had had been due to end over 200 years of brewing at this particular site around 12 weeks later, however, they had to make the tough decision to not brew there again, such was the risk of contamination.
“The behaviour of all the people involved in the damage and destruction was utterly deplorable. Thomas Ward not only had the audacity to force employees off company property, he then tried to coerce them into paying thousands of pounds for the travellers to leave. Thankfully no money was handed over in spite of his demands.”
Discussing the investigation, she added: “Lots of work went on behind the scenes to ensure we traced the right people, arrested them and gathered enough evidence to secure convictions. The conspiracy charges demonstrate the seriousness of the offences that were committed.
“We know how much upset this incident caused to the people of Blackburn and Lancashire as a whole. We’re sorry if people felt we could have done more at the time, but we hope that the quality of our investigation and our determination to put those responsible behind bars will have gone some way towards allaying the concerns of the community.
“I would like to thank Thwaites, who we have been in regular contact with throughout the investigation and court process.
“I would also like to remind people that this was a unique incident in terms of the damage caused. Those sentenced today are criminals who behaved in a completely unacceptable manner and we have dealt with them as such.
“We generally have good relationships with the travelling community and the level of destruction and damage caused to the site is not reflective of the behaviour of all Travellers.
“We know other people were involved who haven’t yet appeared before the courts and so our investigation continues to ensure we trace them and bring them to justice also. If you know anything that could help, please get in touch.”
If you have any information about the incident, you can email email@example.com or call 01254 353863. If you fail to get an answer, dial 101 and quote crime reference ED1811359.
Alternatively, you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.