Manager ‘cracked’ and burgled building

YMCA: St Annes site on South Promenade
YMCA: St Annes site on South Promenade
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A YMCA manager snapped and behaved in a bizarre manner by breaking into a branch of his workplace, raiding the safe.

James Wheelhouse, who had been employed by the organisation for 12 years, working his way up from fitness instructor, smashed his way into the YMCA Swimming Baths and Leisure Centre, St Annes, and stole £173 in cash and two cash tins.

On this occasion he appears to have cracked

He drove away from the scene in his bare feet and threw away the safe key, which he later retrieved from a ditch.

At the time of the offence he said he had felt under pressure at work, his marriage had broken down and he was apart from his wife and children.

Wheelhouse, 34, of Forshaw Avenue, St Annes, pleaded guilty to burglary.

Andrea Fawcett, prosecuting, said Wheelhouse had been employed by the YMCA for many years working first at their St Annes site, then moving to its Poulton site.

On December 19, Wheelhouse had broken into the St Annes site on South Promenade, opened the safe and taken £173 cash. When questioned by police he could not explain why he had done it.

Howard Green, defending, said Wheelhouse had felt under stress at work, his marriage had broken down and he was taking medication prescribed by his doctor for depression.

Mr Green added: “On this occasion he appears to have cracked. It was bizarre conduct. When he left the scene after this mad bit of rampage he took the key to the safe with him.

“Because of the stress he was under and also this incident, he resigned from his job.”

The defence handed in character references for the bench to read from Wheelhouse’s boss and a senior YMCA boss, both of whom had known the defendant for years and were described as shocked by his out-of-character behaviour.

Probation officer, Lesley Whittaker, said Wheelhouse had described his divorce as not amicable.

Ms Whittaker added that after being transferred to the Poulton YMCA site Wheelhouse felt even more stressed after he had to investigate a situation between a manager and member of staff.

Wheelhouse was sentenced to a 12- month community order with 100 hours’ unpaid work for the community and ordered to pay £1,327 compensation for the damage with £85 costs plus £60 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.