White Horse pub landlord fights off armed fruit machine raiders in Selhurst

Danny Foley stopped a couple of burglars from stealing money from his fruit machines

Danny Foley has been the pub's landlord for six years

First published in News
Last updated
Streatham Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A have-a-go hero landlord has described the moment he gave burglars a battering after they smashed their way into his pub to steal cash from the fruit machines.

Jurors in the trial of two brothers at Croydon Crown Court heard Danny Foley’s pub had been broken into about six weeks before they allegedly struck at the White Horse in Selhurst Road.

On that occasion he had stayed upstairs and called the police who arrived just seconds too late, and £687 was taken.

So at 7am on the morning of November 13 last year when he heard people smashing their way into the premises by breaking the glass in a back door of the pub he decided to take matters into his own hands.

He grabbed a lightweight commemorative Celtic Football Club baseball bat from his kitchen and headed downstairs.

Two men were smashing their way into the fruit machines, one using a sledgehammer and the other using a spade.

Giving evidence, Mr Foley said: “I felt that the people that do this would be prepared to fight to get out of the pub.

“My thought was to get there to stop them stealing the money and to contain them.

“It wasn’t going to be a case of ‘Come on lads, pack it in’.

“There was a sledgehammer on the floor [by one of the fruit machines] and I thought if one of them is going to pick it up then I’m going to pre-empt the strike.

“If I had shouted it would have been a two on one situation and so this was a pre-emptive strike to immobilise one of them.

“I struck him and he let out a breathless scream.

“He came away from the machine and I struck him again and he went down onto the floor onto his knees and I struck him again.

“He was holding on to me and I swore at him and that’s when he shouted out ‘John, John, help me, he’s doing me’.”

The man battered by Mr Foley in the pub, Michael Ryan, is clearly visible on the CCTV footage which was shown to jurors at the court yesterday.

Mr Ryan, of no fixed abode, has pleaded guilty to this burglary.

But his accomplice was wearing a balaclava and the 40-year-old’s brother John, from Brent, denies this was him.

Mr Foley backed away from hitting Michael Ryan when he saw the second burglar coming towards him with the metal end of a spade.

He said: "I expected a major confrontation.

"I expected him to hit me with that spade."

Both burglars threw bar stools at Mr Foley as they fought their way to escape through the broken glass panel in the rear door, and Michael Ryan managed to get outside.

The court heard the other man, who the prosecution say is John Ryan, passed the spade through to Michael who allegedly hit Mr Foley.

Mr Foley added: "I felt a really hard hit on my head and from that moment on I lost co-ordination and had pins and needles all the way down and I felt faint."

He had to steady himself by going back to the bar and holding on and in that moment, the court heard, John passed the sledgehammer through the shattered glass panel in the rear door before escaping.

Streatham Guardian: Danny Foley has been the pub's landlord for six years

Both defendants deny attacking Mr Foley, who required three stitches to a 2cm gash on his head.

They have both been charged with GBH, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, with the jury given the option of considering a lesser GBH charge, which has a maximum sentence of five years.

Prosecutor Richard Mandel told the court that when police arrived a black glove was found near the fruit machine allegedly smashed by John Ryan.

He said: "John Ryan's DNA was on it because he was wearing it at this burglary."

The men are also accused of burgling the Bird in Hand pub, Sydenham Road, Croydon, on November 29 last year.

Two men struck at the pub at about 7am and smashed their way into the quiz machine.

They got away with £6 and left the scene in a car which was later found abandoned nearby.

This vehicle was registered to a Mrs Ryan at the address where John Ryan was arrested in January.

And jurors heard a head torch was found at the scene of the second robbery and this had John Ryan's DNA on it.

When Michael Ryan was interviewed about the burglaries he admitted the White Horse one.

But he has pleaded not guilty to attacking Mr Foley and the other burglary charge.

John Ryan denies both counts of burglary and attacking Mr Foley.

There is no suggestion the brothers are responsible for the first burglary at the White Horse pub, which happened last September.

The trial continues.


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