FURIOUS customers trapped a couple inside a pub for more than an hour after they were suspected of trying to flee without paying their bill.

Diners at the Castle Inn pub, in Little Wakering, stepped in on Sunday afternoon after a couple were seen ordering starters, mains and drinks before allegedly attempting to leave without paying.

In total, the couple - who staff claimed they recognised from previous “dine and dash incidents”- are accused of ordering £60 worth of drinks and food before attempting to leave.

Police were called to the pub after the situation became “heated” and have confirmed the force has launched an investigation.

Landlord, Ken Todd, 76, has called the incident “upsetting and disappointing” and thanked customers for getting involved though regrets that police action was not taken.

He said: “One of our girls took the couple's order and immediately saw that they had ordered quite a lot, with another of our barmaids believing she recognised the couple from another dine and dash incident.

“It quickly got heated between customers and the couple, customers got involved and tried to stop them leaving for over an hour until the police got here, it sounds like they are known to them, but they were let go.”

Mr Todd admitted if the couple were in need, he would have offered them food and help but was furious that the couple had attempted to leave.

“We were asked if it was worth taking them to court over a £60 meal, I’m really disappointed that people are willing to do this to us to us, if they were hungry, I would just give it to them but there were so many excuses and arguments with customers,” he added.

“Customers kept them talking for a good hour and kept accusing them of being serial offenders. It was a great stress for us, and my people and now we have to dust ourselves off and carry on, though it did really hurt us yesterday.”

A police spokesman said: “We were called at around 5.18pm to reports of two individuals trying to leave a pub in Little Wakering Road, Little Wakering, without making payment. Officers attended and liaised with all staff, members of the public and all parties involved. Details were taken from two people at the scene and enquiries are ongoing.”