A WIGAN soldier has spoken of his horror at finding bags of Class A drugs stashed in the hotel room where he was staying with his four-year-old grandson.
Antony Beckett, who moved away from the town several years ago, had returned on May 2 to see his terminally ill mother in Wigan and Leigh Hospice who sadly passed away a few weeks after the incident.
One of her dying wishes was to see her granddaughter and great-grandson before she died so Mr Beckett booked in at the Days Inn hotel in Charnock Richard, that being the only family room available in the area.
On the morning of May 3 as Mr Beckett, his daughter and grandson were preparing to head down for breakfast, the shocking discovery was made.
“I noticed a piece of what I believed to be sticky tape on the edge of a light fitting,” said Mr Beckett.
“So with a hint of curiosity I gently tugged a small corner and to my astonishment, a large bag of drugs fell out.
“At this point, with me having an exemplary conduct record of more than 18 years in the army and serving in every conflict since 1995, all I could see was my career ending with a criminal record to boot.
“I called the police and explained the situation. When the police arrived they escorted me through the reception in front of other patrons, which was completely humiliating.
“While giving my statement I was informed that the hotel was raided for drugs a few days earlier. I was also told that, if my grandson had taken even the smallest amount of the drugs, because of its purity he would be dead.”
The police made it abundantly clear to Mr Beckett that he was not in any way under suspicion with regards to the bags and he then confronted the hotel management about how this was allowed to happen, explaining the consequences should his grandson have found the packages – believed to have contained around £40,000 worth of cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, instead of him.
The staff did apologise for the matter but the family felt it was half-hearted, as was their offer of compensation. “The only offer of apology from the duty manager was a complementary, way below standard breakfast and evening meal and Expedia refunded my booking fee,” added Mr Beckett.
“I have contacted all other governing partners of Days Inn in order to get the process of raising the complaint with ABTA and ATOL who they are bound to but still they refuse to give me the relevant information.
“The manager of Days Inn, Charnock Richard has blamed the police for not finding the drugs and leaving the room clean after the raid several days before and he fails to take any responsibility himself.
“I am not after the world in compensation as this is not in my nature. All I’ve been after is a level of compensation commensurate with the level of humiliation and danger that Days Inn placed my family and me in.”
Mr Beckett says it made what was going to be an extremely difficult weekend even worse.
Bosses at Welcome Break, which manages the Days Inn chain, says that the company has done everything in line with good customer service and the matter has been dealt with.
They have, however, apologised for the incident.
Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie said: “The gentleman concerned has been spoken to by several members of our management staff and I am aware he has approached numerous people at different companies regarding this.
“We have apologised profusely for this unfortunate incident. On behalf of Welcome Break and Days Inn (which we operate at Charnock Richard) we are satisfied that everything was done in line with good customer service and we have spoken to the gentleman concerned on numerous occasions since.
“As far as we are concerned, the matter has been dealt with.”
A spokesman for Lancashire police said: “We got a call on May 3 from Mr Beckett who was staying at the hotel and he had found bags behind a light fitting in the room.