A LANDLORD fled with his pub’s takings and blew more than £4,000 on drink and cocaine, a court heard.

Kerri Benson, who ran the Lamb Inn in Blackburn Road, Astley Bridge, pleaded guilty to the theft of £4,317 from Bravo Inns at Bolton Magistrates Court yesterday.

Prosecutor Steve Woodman told magistrates how Benson took over the tenancy of the pub on October 13 last year and moved in with his partner, Alison Macdonald, and her four children. Part of his role was banking the pub’s £5,500 a week takings.

But when a member of staff from the pub chain turned up at the Lamb Inn on January 14 to conduct a stock take they could not get inside.

Mr Woodman said area manager David Roblin had been concerned about Benson’s running of the pub for some time.

He managed to get in touch with Miss Macdonald who said Benson had walked out, taking the pub’s money with him.

She had no knowledge of what he had been doing. Benson was traced by police four days later and told them he had spent all the money on drugs and beer.

Mr Woodman said: “It was a very serious breach of trust.”

Rahil Khan, defending, said 31-year-old Benson, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, is an alcoholic. He added: “There was a lack of expertise running a public house and they ran into financial difficulties.”

The former Royal Navy submariner abandoned the pub taking the cash with him.

Mr Khan sad: “He took a great deal of cocaine over a short period of time The money went very quickly.”

He added that Benson, of Dales Brown, Astley Bridge, is now seeking help for his addictions and has found employment as a press setter.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing until March 12 to allow reports to be prepared and Benson was granted unconditional bail.