Man who fled hotel without paying £452 is serial dine-and-dash fraud
EXCLUSIVE Revealed: Man who fled historic hotel without paying £452 after he downed 26 pints and scoffed three meals is serial dine-and-dash fraudster
- The ‘businessman’ ran up bar tab during stay at The Angel in Halesworth, Suffolk
A conman who fled from a historic hotel without paying his £452 bill which included three meals and an incredible 26 pints can today be unmasked as a serial dine and dash fraudster.
The so-called ‘businessman’ ran up his huge bill on a drinking and eating spree while staying for three nights at the 16th century Angel Hotel in Halesworth, Suffolk.
MailOnline can now reveal that the thirsty fraudster is Craig Sharp, 52, who admits he has a ‘horrendous’ criminal record including a string of jail sentences for dine and dash scams.
In his latest venture he tried to avoid suspicion by praising staff and buying them chocolates, as he sunk an average of eight pints every night in the cosy bar at the family-run hotel.
But the owners became worried after he slipped away early on his final day, and sent an email saying he would return later in the morning to pay.
When they never heard anything back from him, they realised he had conned them and released CCTV pictures of him inside and outside the hotel.
Craig Sharp, 52, fled from a historic hotel without paying his £452 bill which included three meals and an incredible 26 pints at the 16th century Angel Hotel in Halesworth, Suffolk (pictured in 2023)
Sharp admits he has a ‘horrendous’ criminal record including a string of jail sentences for dine and dash scams (pictured in 2018)
In his latest venture he tried to avoid suspicion by praising staff and buying them chocolates, as he sunk an average of eight pints every night in the cosy bar at the family-run hotel
Incredibly Sharp initially booked his first night in the hotel online, using his real name and his real address which is his parents’ home in Dockfield Avenue, Harwich, Essex.
Mr Sharp did not come to the door when a MailOnline reporter called at his parents’ semi-detached house on Wednesday afternoon.
When the reporter asked to speak to Craig, his father Barry Sharp 77, refused to say if his son was in the house, and would not confirm or deny if he was the man on the CCTV.
After being shown the CCTV of the man with a distinctive bald patch at the hotel, Mr Sharp said: ‘I’m not at liberty to say anything to be honest with you. I’m not saying a word.
‘I mean, there is other things that are going on. That’s all I can say.’
When reminded about how his son had been jailed at least four times for dine and dash offences, he said: ‘It was a long while ago.’
Mr Sharp agreed when the reporter suggested that his son might be suffering from mental health problems, saying: ‘Exactly’.
The father added: ‘Nobody knows the situation do they. I’m not condoning what he has done in the past.
‘He has done his time. We don’t know what’s happened do we. It’s a long story. Put it that way. That’s all I’m going to say.’
MailOnline told on Wednesday how Mr Sharp used a debit card to book a £75 room for one night at the Angel Hotel before extending his stay.
During his three night break, he guzzled 15 pints of Birra Moretti, eight pints of Guinness, seven rum and cokes, three pints of Aspall, five bags of Mini Cheddars and three meals and other sides, before leaving without paying a penny
MailOnline can disclose that he has pulled the same trick at a series of other hotels and up-market restaurants, and has a string of dishonesty convictions dating back to 1993
Incredibly Sharp initially booked his first night in the hotel online, using his real name and his real address which is his parents’ home in Dockfield Avenue, Harwich, Essex
Sharp was reported to have been jailed for more offences in 2018, before being imprisoned yet again for 48 weeks by Ipswich magistrates in May 2021 after failing to pay bills totalling £2,579.82 at four luxury hotels
But MailOnline can disclose that he has pulled the same trick at a series of other hotels and up-market restaurants, and has a string of dishonesty convictions dating back to 1993.
Sharp was already serving a prison sentence when he was jailed for a further concurrent two months by magistrates in Colchester, Essex, in May 2017 after he admitted two counts of making off without payment at two glitzy hotels.
He pre-paid for a two night stay at the boutique Blue Ivy Hotel in North Hill, Colchester, on January 8 and 9, 2017, before arranging a third night and then leaving without paying the outstanding £202.
When police were notified, they realised he had committed a similar offence at the Milsoms Hotel and Restaurant in Dedham, Norfolk, in November 2015, when he left without paying £251.15 for food and drink, and a one night stay.
Representing himself in court, he tried to claim that he had tried to make amends to Blue Ivy, saying: ‘I knew I could not pay the bill for the third night. ‘
He added: ‘I contacted the owner afterwards and paid £45 but then realised there was no way I could pay the remainder.
READ MORE: Pictured: ‘Conman’ who left hotel without paying £452 bill including pints of Birra Moretti, Guinness, cider, Mini Cheddars and three meals – despite leaving staff a box of chocolates
‘I told him it would be dribs and drags over many months and the only way forward was for him to go to the police.
‘At Milsoms, I paid a £50 deposit on a card but knew I could not pay the rest.
‘At the time I did not care an awful lot what I was doing or the hurt I was causing myself or other people.
‘When I book in, I give my own details. I knew they would find me and I was burying my head in the sand. I hope I can be in prison, get myself sorted and come out with a clean slate.”’
Sharp went on: ‘I am unhappy with myself and who I am. There was a six year break in my offending when I moved to Scotland which proves I can knuckle down and get on with things.
‘My record is horrendous, but I am drawn towards doing these things. I give all my correct information and know I am going to get caught in the end.
‘Both my parents are 70 and have had health problems but they have said when I am released, I can go back and live with them.
‘It is up to me to get back to how I was six or seven years ago when I was doing well.’
Sharp was reported to have been jailed for more offences in 2018, before being imprisoned yet again for 48 weeks by Ipswich magistrates in May 2021 after failing to pay bills totalling £2,579.82 at four luxury hotels.
The court heard how he ooked a two-night stay at the Crown in Bildeston, Suffolk, which is acclaimed for its fine dining on February 25, 2020, using his own name and bank details, and charged food and drink to his room.
He requested another night’s stay, which was granted, but fled before the hotel could take payment for the nights he had already stayed, leaving behind a bill of £494.85
Sharp then headed on the same day to the timber-framed 15th century Swan Hotel in Lavenham, Suffolk, where supermodel Claudia Schiffer stayed before her wedding.
He stayed several nights, giving his own name and bank card, although he gave a false address in London before fleeing without paying his bill of £887.57.
Sharp was already serving a prison sentence when he was jailed for a further concurrent two months by magistrates in Colchester, Essex, in May 2017 after he admitted two counts of making off without payment at two glitzy hotels
Paul Baker, defending Sharp at the time, said he had been caring for his mother and father, who were not in good health, and ‘things just got on top of him’ and he needed to get away from home
Sharp then arrived on March 2 at the seaside Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where he racked up an unpaid bill of £491.20.
Finally, Sharp stayed a number of days on another seaside break at the Caley Hall Hotel, in Hunstanton, Norfolk, after asking if he could pay on departure.
He told staff he was going out for the day but when his room was checked, all his belongings had gone and he had left his key card as well as an outstanding bill of £706.20
The Caley Hall Hotel closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and when it reopened in July, attempts were made to contact Sharp and get him to repay the money. He provided bank details to staff but they were rejected.
Paul Baker, defending Sharp at the time, said he had been caring for his mother and father, who were not in good health, and ‘things just got on top of him’ and he needed to get away from home.
Companies House records reveal that Sharp set up his own car valet business called CRS Valet Ltd, registered at his parents’ home in May last year.
The firm which has never filed accounts, faced a compulsory strike off notice in August this year after it failed to file a notice confirming that he was still sole director. The notice has since been suspended.
READ MORE: PUB LANDLORD SAYS FAMILY OF 12 RACKED UP £260 BILL BEFORE FLEEING WITHOUT PAYING
Angel Hotel manager William Tennant, 24, said Sharp had arrived at his premises on November 20 after catching a train.
He alerted Action Fraud after he failed to pay his £210 accommodation bill and £242 for food and drink, and is waiting to hear back from Suffolk Police.
Mr Tennant said: ‘It’s disappointing. More than anything, we look after people well here all the time, you’ll find plenty of witnesses of that.
‘It’s obviously some sadistic game he likes to play or an addiction he’s got if he’s been doing it for so long. So that’s sad really, to be honest.
‘He’s obviously a sad man. He even bought chocolates for us to thank us for our hospitality. It’s not a small amount of money, and turnover wise, you have to earn a significant amount more to get that back, profit-wise.’
Mr Tennant said Sharp had been ‘very complimentary’ to staff during his three night stay and had spent his evenings sinking pints at the bar.
But he now believes this was simply a way of ensuring his ‘brazen’ scheme went unnoticed .
He added: ‘He was just businessman-like. He was a middle-aged bloke. He was chatty and friendly.
‘He was polite and very complimentary to our staff, saying how amazing he had been treated, how lovely everything was, how content he is.
‘He originally just booked in for one night. I suppose that was him scouting out how many extras he could put onto his room without paying for them.
‘He sat with his back to the camera in the bar, which looking back must have been an intentional thing.
‘There’s CCTV footage of him everywhere. I thought he was too brazen to be a con man. People tend to be a bit smarter if you actually try not to be caught.
‘He started on Aspel, then he had Moretti and Guinness. It worked out about eight pints a night.’
Mr Tennant said staff became concerned when the man slipped out during the morning on November 23 before promising to return and pay in an email.
When they searched his name online, they found reports of his jail sentences for other dine and dash scams.
Mr Tennant said: ‘It’s not impossible to leave without anyone seeing you. It’s a small hotel so he didn’t show up for breakfast.’
‘He emailed to say, “Sorry I had to leave in a rush, I’ll be back in time to check out and settle my bill, can I stay another night?” or something.
‘We then thought this is a bit weird now. And then we Googled him and we saw him – and realised this is the guy. We never heard from him again.’
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