A 100-strong mob was led by John and Thomas Ward to Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn, Lancashire, where they barricaded their convoy inside before demanding the owners of £100,000 to get the travelers out. The owners were warned and told to f*** off when all they could gather was £20,000.
On May 28, 2018, the staff and police finally gained access to the building and found a massive amount of damage including excrement smears on walls and items stolen. Among the missing items were copper cabling, cash, televisions, port, wines and spirits.
Yesterday at Burnley Crown Court, John Ward was sent to jail for three years and nine months for conspiracy to burgle and commit damage while Thomas Ward was jailed for four years and three months for blackmail, conspiracy to commit criminal damage and conspiracy to burgle Thwaites.
Both Thomas and John had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
Patrick Ward, convicted for the same conspiracy offences in his absence, remains at large.
Sentencing, Judge Andrew Woolman said: “A conspiracy was formed to steal what was available and to cause a considerable amount of damage on the way.
“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.
“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 behavior of all travelers. 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.” – said Superintendent Andrea Barrow, of Blackburn Police
Thwaites, which had been due to move to another building before the incident, was forced to cancel the move.