Four people to stand trial over £250k damage to Thwaites brewery

Four people are to face trial over £250,000 worth of damage and losses incurred at Lancashire brewery Thwaites after the site was invaded by 100 travellers in May.

Three men and a 16-year-old boy attended Preston Crown Court yesterday (30 July), all pleading not guilty.

Thomas Ward, 43, of Aspull Common, Leigh, appeared via video-link and denied charges of blackmail, burglary and criminal damage.

Peter Ward, 32 and John Ward, 33, also of Aspull Common, together with a 16-year-old boy pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary and criminal damage.

According to evidence submitted to the court, it is claimed that Thomas Ward demanded £20,000 from brewery staff, stating that if paid, the travellers would leave within an hour.

The accused are due to stand trial on 19 November. Thomas Ward remains in custody while the other three defendants were granted conditional bail.

Image: Lancashire Police

Damage caused by the travellers, who broke into the brewery on 26 May, is estimated to be in the region of £100,000.

100 people travelling in 21 caravans and 25 vehicles then took part in an “aggressive stand-off” with police over the bank holiday before finally leaving on 28 May.

According to reports at the time, the group are alleged to have not only damaged vehicles, but used the brewery’s offices as toilets, smashed windows, stolen items and set off fire extinguishers.

After regaining control of the site, staff at Thwaites were forced to pour away around 1,700 pints of beer due to fears it could be contaminated.

In late June, six people were arrested in police raids following the incident with four later charged with offences.

It is now estimated that total losses, including damage, impact on revenue and wasted beer, amounts to £250,000.

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