Dine-and-dash conman fled gastro pub without paying his £600 bill
8th December 2023

EXCLUSIVE Serial dine-and-dash conman fled gastro pub without paying his £600 bill just days before he ripped off historic hotel

A serial dine and dash conman fled from a gastro pub without paying his bill of £600 for a two night gourmet stay – just before he ripped off a historic hotel with the same name.

Craig Sharp, 52, made headlines this week after he failed to pay his £452 bill which included three meals and 26 pints during a three-night stay at the Angel hotel in Halesworth, Suffolk.

But MailOnline can reveal that just days earlier he conned the Angel pub which is acclaimed for its fine dining around five miles away in the village of Wangford near Southwold, Suffolk.

Sharp of Harwich, Essex, tucked into lavish meals at the pub, washed down with numerous beers, and even bought rounds of drinks for locals which he added to his bill.

But he slipped away in the morning without settling his bill of £600, and when staff tried to take payment on his debit card, they found that no funds were available.

Serial dine and dash conman Craig Sharp (pictured) fled from a hotel without paying his bill of £452

He enjoyed three meals and 26 pints during a three-night stay at the Angel hotel in Halesworth, Suffolk

Sharp’s huge bill at the 16th century Angel Hotel included 15 pints of Birra Moretti

It was revealed yesterday that Sharp has a long record of dishonesty, dating back to 1993 and has served at least four prison sentences for fraud including dine and dash offences.

Sharp booked one night at The Angel in Wangford in November, using his own name and his real address at his parents’ home, before arranging to stay a second night

Bradley Coote, who works at the pub, said: ‘He ate with us and enjoyed quite a large amount of alcohol. I served him on one night. He was very charismatic.

‘He got himself on first name terms with all the staff members and was buying people drinks at the bar.

‘Funnily enough, he seemed a really nice guy. He was very chatty and friendly, and just really down to earth.

‘He told us he would come down in the morning and pay his bill, which is completely normal for a lot of customers, but it didn’t happen.

‘When he disappeared, we tried to charge his card, and it gave us a big “No’.

‘When we saw the report of him doing the same thing at the Angel in Halesworth, we talked to them and realised he was the same guy who had come to us.’

Staff at the Angel pub have since reported their dine and dash case to Suffolk Police who are said to be investigating.

The website for The Angel at Wangford says it has ‘seven well appointed, comfortable en-suite bedrooms full of character.’

It describes itself as ‘perfectly located’ and ‘a cosy pub where, for centuries, locals have been supping their pints and travellers finding a place to rest their weary heads after a wonderful feast’.

The website adds: ‘Delicious meals made from the best local seasonal ingredients, brought by our friendly front of house team, ensuring you have a wonderful time while you’re with us.’

He also conned The Angel in Wangford in November after booking a one night stay

Sharp has served at least four prison sentences for fraud including dine and dash offences

The current menu includes main courses of braised beef short rib with caramelised miso onion, braised sesame potatoes, broccoli and miso juice priced at £20, and venison haunch, celeriac dauphinoise, smoked celeriac puree, charred hispi cabbage and dark chocolate jus at £22.

READ MORE: Revealed: Man who fled historic hotel without paying £452 after he downed 26 pints and scoffed three meals is serial dine-and-dash fraudster

Sharp’s huge bill at the 16th century Angel Hotel in Halesworth included 15 pints of Birra Moretti, eight pints of Guinness, seven rum and cokes, three pints of Aspall cider, five bags of Mini Cheddars and three meals and other sides.

He tried to avoid suspicion by praising staff and buying them chocolates 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.

MailOnline revealed yesterday that the thirsty fraudster was Sharp who admits he has a ‘horrendous’ criminal record including a string of jail sentences for dine and dash scams.

In a similar con to his fraud in Wangford, he booked his first £75 night in the hotel online, using his real name and his real address.

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 he 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.’

Sharpadmits he has a ‘horrendous’ criminal record including a string of jail sentences for dine and dash scams

MailOnline revealed on Thursday that he has pulled the same trick at a series of other hotels and up-market restaurants.

Sharp was already serving a prison sentence when he was jailed for a 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.

‘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.

READ MORE: ‘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

‘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 booked a two-night stay at the Crown in Bildeston, Suffolk, 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, and left behind a bill of £494.85

Sharp headed the same day to the timber-framed 15th century Swan Hotel in Lavenham, Suffolk, where supermodel Claudia Schiffer stayed before her wedding.

He gave his own name and bank card, although he gave a false address in London, before fleeing without paying his bill of £887.57.

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, he had 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 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, said he had been caring for his parents 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.

Sharp has a string of dishonesty convictions dating back to 1993

Angel Hotel manager William Tennant, 24, said he had alerted Action Fraud after Sharp failed to pay his £210 accommodation bill and £242 for food and drink.

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 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 Aspall, 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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