Stolen trophies plea from club; Give us back our sentimental memories beg golf club boss.
A DRUGS trafficker targeted a remote golf course clubhouse to plunder more than pounds 20,000 of trophies.
Lee O'Brien, sentenced to seven-and-a-half years for his role in plotting to bring a huge haul of Class A drugs to Tyneside, was on bail when he carried out the raid.
Along with Alder Willis, the 27-year-old scoped out Bamburgh Castle Golf Club before disarming CCTV cameras, smashing a display cabinet and fleeing with thousands of pounds of silverware.
The trophies have never been recovered but now, O'Brien has been handed a 12-month prison sentence.
He appeared at Leeds Crown Court alongside Yvonne Sayers, daughter of notorious Tyneside hardman John Henry Sayers, and drugs kingpin Peter Greenhill.
Stephen Wood, prosecuting, said: "The defendant and Willis visited the site as a precursor to the commission of the offence of burglar. To use the vernacular, they were 'casing the joint'." They returned two days later just after 10pm in the same van to put their plan into action. Police stopped their van as they made their way south on the A1.
When the vehicle was searched police discovered a pair of gloves and a forensic analysis discovered glass fragments which matched the trophy cabinet.
Text messages showed Willis had "encouraged" O'Brien to get involved. Police have never recovered the trophies but on April 26 last year, more than a week after the raid, the bases were returned to the golf club by a man who said he had found them in the water butt of his garden.
Sentencing O'Brien, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: "The steward and his wife were present at the time and they were disturbed during the course of the burglary. "Property to the value of pounds 20,000 was taken and none has been recovered. It was of sentimental value to the golf club."
On March 29 this year, Willis, 49, of Milsted Court, North Walbottle, Newcastle, was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years, with 300 hours of unpaid work. Debt-ridden O'Brien, 27, of Fouracres Road, Cowgate, Newcastle, was handed a 12-month prison term for the burglary.
Today Mike Robinson, the secretary of the golf club, issued a plea to track down the trophies. He said: "There's massive sentimental value attached to them and if anyone finds them then we would really like them back."
As well as being sentenced for the burglary, O'Brien was given nearly eight years in prison after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy and conspiracy to supply BZP.
His then-partner Yvonne Sayers, 23, of Molineux Close, Byker, Newcastle, was sentenced to 10 months, suspended for a year, after admitting a charge of possession with intent to supply 10,000 BZP tablets.
Greenhill, 37, of South Parade, Whitley Bay, was sentenced to eight and a half years after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and ecstasy and conspiracy to supply BZP.
WHERE ARE THEY? Two of the items stolen from Bamburgh Golf Club APPEAL Mike Robinson, secretary of Bamburgh Castle Golf Club, issued a public appeal over the stolen trophies. Inset, Lee O'Brien