Thieving Asda worker ordered to repay £680,000

'Lavish' lifestyle included holidays and theatre trips

Jennifer Ward and Alistair Gordon Lobban

An Asda accounts manager who stole used store vouchers and then cashed them in has been ordered to pay back £680,000.

Jennifer Ward, 51, from York, was jailed for two years in July. She's now been ordered to repay the cash and faces four years in prison if she fails to comply in the next six months - and she'll still owe the money.

Meanwhile, her partner, 54-year-old Alistair Gordon Lobban, was jailed for a year in June 2013 for money laundering. He's now been told he must repay £57,766.

Ward worked in the cash office at Asda and was responsible for reconciling accounts and destroying used vouchers. Instead, though, she stole them, along with cash, and falsified the accounts to disguise what she'd done.

She spread the proceeds amongst numerous bank and building society accounts, as well as buying shares, bonds, unit trusts and life and endowment policies.

But between 2004 and 2010, she and Lobban spent thousands of pounds on holidays and entertainment - "colossal" spending, say North Yorkshire Police.

The pair spent more than £320,000 on holidays and theatre tickets and around £30,000 on a timeshare cottage in the Scilly Isles. At the point they were arrested, they were just about to go on a £4,000 Caribbean cruise.

And when officers searched the couple's home they discovered more than £200,000 worth of Asda gift vouchers, £30,000 in cash and a hoard of electrical goods, ornaments, paintings and expensive toiletries - much still in unopened boxes.

"This was a long and complex investigation which has finally come to an end thanks to the hard work and determination of detective constable Sarah Bullock and financial investigator Paul Dowsland. Indeed their work was commended as outstanding by His Honour Judge Bayliss QC at the time of sentencing," says detective inspector Ian Wills of North Yorkshire Police's Financial Investigation Unit.

"The Proceeds of Crime Act has been used to deprive two dishonest people from their illegal income and has demonstrated North Yorkshire Police's determination to strip criminals of their ill-gotten gains."

The fraud was discovered after colleagues started getting suspicious about Ward's lavish lifestyle and installed a secret camera, which caught her stealing cash.

"Between 2004 and 2010, the pair's joint spending was colossal, indulging in a lavish lifestyle way beyond their means," say the police.

"Anyone who suspects someone of living beyond their means should not hesitate to report it to the police - we will take action."

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