A DEBT-ridden man burgled a city bingo hall under strict orders after being threatened by crooks over unpaid drug arrears.

Carlisle man Ryan Ferguson, 27, went to Opera Bingo, Denton Street, on August 18.

A member of staff at the cash desk was approached by a customer who asked to change £20.

Prosecutor Peter Kelly told Carlisle magistrates’ court that the employee said she was dealing with other matters.

Of Ferguson’s offence, Mr Kelly said: “At that point he lent over the desk, reached into a till drawer and took the money.”

That amounted to £1,120.

Kelly added: “Staff have attempted to stop him.

However, he has made a good escape from the building, and outside, on a dark coloured pushbike."

Police enquiries saw them detain Ferguson a short time later, and his identity as the thief was confirmed when the bingo hall CCTV was viewed.

Two days after that crime, Ferguson was jailed by magistrates for stealing goods from a B&M Bargains store, and in September, he and his mother were sent to prison by a judge for their roles in a violent attack on a couple who were beaten with weapons in a city car park.

Ferguson, of Randall Street, admitted the bingo hall burglary when he appeared at the magistrates’ court today (April 8).

His lawyer, Mark Shepherd, outlined the dramatic story behind that crime: “Mr Ferguson, I think as his record suggests, is somebody who has difficulties with class A drugs and has done for some time.

"He had racked up a substantial debt with a supplier who was not prepared to wait for that debt to be paid.

“Liverpudlians turned up in Carlisle, at his mother’s address, forced entry, and he was subject to a Taser; he was Tasered in the back and his mother threatened with a machete.”

Ferguson was told where and how to commit the burglary, and ordered to return straight away.

Shepherd added: “In reality, he would say he did what he did because of the pressure exerted upon him.

“He was arrested just 30 minutes later and all the money had gone.

"He handed money over and the men left.

"He has never heard from them since.

"He was told to keep his mouth shut.

“He anticipates the debt is now seen as cleared.”

Ferguson was jailed for 20 weeks, which was added, consecutively, to the crown court sentence he is currently still serving.