Staff at Bongo’s Bingo were held hostage at Camp & Furnace

They had hammers and a crow bar

An armed gang stormed Camp & Furnace after a night of Bongo’s Bingo in January.

Four masked men holding hammers and a crow-bar suddenly burst into the venue when staff were cashing up at around 1am on January 27th.

21-year-old Nathan Iniabere was one of the gang, and today was jailed for five years at Liverpool Crown Court after pleading guilty to robbery and possessing an offensive weapon.

He is the only criminal so far to be punished after police failed to locate the other three.

Prosecutor Simon Duncan said:

“The four males, dressed in dark clothing, entered via the main doors. Their faces were covered, they were wearing gloves and they were brandishing weapons, one with a crowbar and two with hammers.

“This defendant, carrying a claw hammer, jumped over the bar towards the staff. These staff were effectively held hostage at that point behind the bar.”

He added that while the gang entered the venue, other workers remained outside and saw them.

“They were obviously oblivious and entered through the main door. This defendant, with the hammer, saw them. He charged towards them, and initially the staff thought it was a prank but it became clear it was a very serious situation.”

Iniabere forced bar workers Tom Filer and Alex Wynne onto the floor while another colleague, Syafiera Rosidi, tried to flee alongside another woman.

Mr Duncan said: “(Ms Rosidi) at this point ran towards a side door by the bar but were pursued by this defendant, who grabbed Ms Rosidi by the hair.”

The men demanded cash from tills and told the staff “Don’t give me an excuse to use this,” as they showed them the weapons.

While the men “rounded up” the staff in the main bar, manager Zak Padmore was cashing up in a back office, watching what was happening on the CCTV monitors.

He phoned 999 and escaped through a side door just before one of the gang smashed the lock and burst in, “jostling” Mr Wynne in front of him.

The men then took cash from tills and a cash box before trying to flee through the main exit. A police car pulled up and the men dropped the thousands of pounds.

Iniabere was chased onto Upper Parliament Street and taken into custody after a struggle, still carrying the hammer.

He refused to snitch on the rest of the group.

After the incident, Ms Rosidi detailed her fears: “I have become increasingly anxious and nervous about my own safety, not just in work but outside of work, almost to the point of paranoia.”

Mr Padamore said: “Watching my friends sitting down having hammers waved in their faces, crying, on the CCTV was a harrowing experience; one I will never forget.”

Defender Jeremy Hawthorn said Iniabere had no previous convictions and had been “going places” before he decided to commit the crime.

He said: “The only fact that might provide an explanation is that he was clearly in a measure of debt…his father found a letter from a debt collectors asking for around £1,000 some months before this incident.”

Merseyside Police Detective Constable Clint Wilkinson said:

“I’d like to commend the staff for their bravery and for the quick thinking of those who managed to contact police, which resulted in Iniabere being arrested nearby and most of the cash being recovered. I hope today’s sentence gives them some sense that justice has been served.

“We know Camp and Furnace had been packed out that night, and believe there would have been people who’d been at the venue, still in and around the area. I believe if you’d saw someone running from the scene or acting suspiciously in the area around 1am, you’d remember it and I would urge you to get in contact via 0151 777 4065 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”