Unlucky for some: Kettering bingo hall burglar caught after stealing scrap metal

He's been sentenced at court

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 7:10 am
The old bingo hall

A burglar failed to hit the jackpot when he raided Kettering's old bingo hall - ending up being arrested after stealing scrap metal.

There was no knock at the door from Roy Nichols when he targeted the former Gala Bingo site, with the 45-year-old gaining entry through a window.

But it proved unlucky for some when police caught up with him and charged him over his actions at the empty hall, which had infamously been the site of Kettering's biggest cannabis factory in 2019.

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the back of the bingo hall

Last week at Northampton Magistrates' Court he was handed a community order after admitting burglary, which he had previously denied earlier this year.

The court heard that Nichols, who lived just a stone's throw from the bingo hall in Meadow Road, burgled the High Street venue at about 7.30pm on March 31 last year.

Once inside he stole nine bars of scrap metal, which had an unknown value.

Magistrates told him he would have to complete 40 hours of unpaid work, have treatment for drug dependency and take part in rehabilitation activities.

The 2019 cannabis factory.

They also ordered him to pay costs of £85 and a surcharge to fund victim services of £95.

The old bingo hall, which closed in 2018, made headlines around the world in June 2019 and was even depicted in a 'Ganja Bingo' Christmas card from fellow High Street shop The Bean Hive.

Officers found a full house of 2,000 cannabis plants there, spread across two rooms right under shoppers' noses, worth a potential £2.8m.

Just four months before that another drug farm set up by brazen criminals had been discovered there by 'urban explorers'.

But despite a huge investigation and forensic evidence the case file into the 2019 raid was closed almost a year later, leaving police frustrated.

Since then the site sat empty for many months - as it was when Nichols burgled it - but it could soon be in use again.

In August work to remove asbestos from the site got under way, with workers on-site telling our reporters it was likely to become a banquet hall and Indian restaurant.