Jamie Oliver offers reward after thugs raid pub

PUBLISHED: 07:51 19 April 2007 | UPDATED: 10:19 31 May 2010

The Cricketers where the aggravated burglary took place - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Cricketers where the aggravated burglary took place - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has offered a £150,000 reward to help catch the armed robbers who stole £10,000 from his parents Clavering pub. Five or six men wielding baseball bats and hammers entered The Cricketers in Wicken Road just before closing time

Jamie Oliver, who was devastated by the news

CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has offered a £150,000 reward to help catch the armed robbers who stole £10,000 from his parents' Clavering pub.

Five or six men wielding baseball bats and hammers entered The Cricketers in Wicken Road just before closing time at 11pm on Sunday night.

Eight people, mainly staff, were inside the pub and were threatened by the robbers who took cash from the till and safe.

Chef Matthew Gurnett, a 26-year-old Newport man, who has worked at the pub for seven years, said: "I was having a drink with a couple of regulars at about 10.55pm when two masked men came in holding wheel braces and a sledgehammer.

"They hit a father of one of the waitresses on his arm, just below the shoulder - he's shaken and bruised.

"They pushed me to the ground, then went round the bar and broke through the office door."

A kitchen worker in his 80s, known as George, was also ordered to get down on the floor.

They then ordered Mr Gurnett's girlfriend, the manageress, who doesn't want to be named, to open the safe.

"They became a lot less angry and aggressive as soon as they knew they'd get what they wanted," said Mr Gurnett.

They then left with a bucket of cash from the safe and the cash register. They got into a dark saloon with a noisy exhaust.

Jamie Oliver's spokesman said the chef, who is currently working in America, was devastated by the news.

He said: "Jamie was shocked and disappointed that something like this could happen in a quiet village like Clavering, particularly at the pub where he grew up and first started to cook.

"He's offering the reward as he hopes someone will come forward with some important information."

Owners Trevor and Sally Oliver were not on the premises at the time of the incident.

Trevor Oliver, who has run the pub for 32 years, praised his manageress for the way she dealt with the aggravated burglary.

"Fortunately my manageress dealt with it marvellously - cool, calm and collectedly. It was all over in four minutes," he said.

Mr Oliver had installed CCTV cameras in the pub three weeks before the incident, but never imagined that they would record such a serious crime.

"I thought it would be handy if someone lost their bag or something petty like that - I never realised it would capture the horrors of Sunday night," he said.

Although the manageress has not returned to work yet because she is so shaken, Mr Oliver said that life at the pub was already back to normal. "We were back on track straight away the following morning," he said.

"You've got to get back on the horse and keep riding."

In the meantime, police are appealing for witnesses.

An Essex Police spokesman said: "All of the men were wearing balaclavas so physical descriptions are limited. However, one had a South African accent and two of the men spoke in an unknown foreign language.

- Anyone with information should contact Saffron Walden Police Station on 01799 513232, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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