A famous historic pub known to be haunted by a notorious highway robber was illegally reduced to rubble in an unlawful demolition.
The Punch Bowl Inn boozer in Lancashire, rocked by claims that the ghost of crook Ned King was a frequent visitor, had been unoccupied since it shut in 2012.
Local legend states the inn, that was built in the 1720s, was visited by the notorious criminal as he started his trade in highway robbery before his execution in 1741.
But the ancient Grade-II listed building was knocked down in June last year, with Burnley Magistrates Court finding five people guilty of an illegal flattening.
The defence representing Andrew Donelan, 60, Nicola Donelan, 58, Rebecca Donelan, 28, David Cotterell, 57, and Brian Ingleby, 69, tried to argue that the building needed to be flattened due to structural issues.
But a key witness, construction firm boss Gez Pegram, told the jury that there had been “no need” to demolish the pub.
All five defendants were found guilty of executing the demolition of the building, while Andrew Donelan, Nicola Donelan, Cotterell and Ingleby were also charged with failing to notify the local authority of the intended demolition.
Although the judge agreed that the building was in a bad state, he was “unconvinced” it needed to be demolished.
Ribble Valley Borough Council brought the case to court after earlier serving a formal notice on the owners to rebuild the pub brick by brick following its demolition.
Fuming locals were shocked last June to see the old pub demolished to rubble.
At the time, Katherine Turner, from Stonyhurs, seethed: “It’s so sad. It has always been a part of village life. I was driving past and couldn’t believe it.”
All five defendants will be sentenced on January 24 at Burnley Magistrates Court.
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