MANHUNT: Simouth drama after pub staff rumble intruder

BRAVE staff and customers at a Sidmouth pub rumbled an opportunist burglar then fearlessly chased him to a derelict hotel- despite threats they could be stabbed.

A police helicopter manhunt unfolded on Tuesday as thousands of spectators lined the town’s streets for the Tour of Britain cycle race.

Fast response cars tore down the Esplanade just minutes before scores of racing cyclists followed suit.

Officers with dogs scoured the derelict Fortfield Hotel after a worker at the Anchor Inn found an intruder in the pub’s private living quarters. Staff pursued the man to the deserted site.

Anchor landlord Trevor Fudge praised his “wonderful” workers- and said he owed them a drink after their diligence meant nothing was taken.

He said a man, who had a Liverpool accent, brazenly walked through the pub’s front doors and into an upstairs bedroom. The entire incident was caught on CCTV.

When confronted, the intruder said he was looking for a toilet before fleeing. Trevor, colleagues and a customer followed in hot pursuit.

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“He put his hand in his back pocket and said ‘do you want to be stabbed as well’- to a member of my staff” said Trevor, “no one knew if he had a knife.”

“I didn’t think twice about chasing him. This is a pub but it is also our home, by going upstairs he was intruding into our home. Anyone would do the same thing if they found someone in their house.

“He had said he was looking for the toilet, but he had walked past two or three to get where he was. He was definitely a burglar.

“He ran back down the stairs and we chased him through the pub and outside. When we got to Fortfield Terrace police turned up with dogs and a helicopter.

“My staff are fantastic- I said I’d buy them a drink when they finished their shifts and I did.”

The police helicopter hovered over the area as thousands lined the Esplanade and Peak Hill just yards away.

Police stopped a man but witnesses confirmed it wasn’t the suspect. Nobody was found in relation to the incident.

A Police spokesperson said officers received reports of an attempted burglary, and tried to locate a man described as a six feet tall white male with short, dark hair and black, thick-rimmed glasses. He wore a yellow t-shirt, jeans.