1. ITV Report

Pub burgled days after landlord was murdered


Thieves have targeted a pub and stolen the landlord's van, days after he was stabbed to death.

Christian Thornton was attacked near the Hammer and Pincers in Widnes, Cheshire, on August 11.

Detectives are appealing for witnesses after thieves broke into the pub sometime between 6pm on Friday and lunchtime on Sunday.

The intruders stole cash from fruit machines, the staff tip jar and the keys to Mr Thornton's van, which was parked outside the pub, a Cheshire Police spokesman said.

The white Ford Transit was later found abandoned in Cherry Sutton, Widnes.

Mr Thornton's family discovered the break-in when they visited the pub after learning the van had been abandoned.

Detective Sergeant Mark Roberts described the burglary as "sickening".

Credit: Liverpool Echo

He said: "Christian's family have been left devastated by his death and the last thing they needed was to find out that the pub, to which he had devoted the last 16 years of his life, had been targeted by callous thieves.

"Following Christian's death there has been an outpouring of grief from the local community and I am now appealing to them for any information which may help in our investigation."

The community near the pub came out in a show of support for Mr Thornton's family by parading on foot and motorbikes through Widnes.

Many were dressed as the cartoon character Tigger or carried Tigger figures on their bikes - as that was the nickname given to Mr Thornton by friends and regulars at his pub.

Bikers gather to process through Widnes Credit: ITV Granada Reports
Many motorbikes bore Tigger figures Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Last week, Labour MP for Halton, Derek Twigg, said he was "deeply saddened" by the death of the "long-serving and popular" landlord.

Organisers on a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the family of the married father said: "Chris in his role as landlord of the Hammer & Pincers was actively involved within the local community & helped to raise thousands of pounds for charities as well as supporting the local music scene and much more."

Lee Abbott, 35, is due to stand trial for his murder next year.

Anyone with information on the burglary should call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, quoting IML 489972 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.