Couple jailed over voucher scam that paid for holidays and cars

A COUPLE who defrauded a major supermarket chain out of more than £400,000 worth of gift vouchers to fund a six-year spree of “insatiable greed” have both been jailed.

Jennifer Ward, 49, and her partner Alistair Lobban, 52, indulged in expensive holidays, cars and jewellery using the proceeds of the scam, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.

Ward worked in the accounts department of Asda and used her position to steal the vouchers, which she later swapped for cash.

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Over six years dating back to 2004, the couple from York had spent more than £320,000 on holidays and theatre tickets and a timeshare cottage in the Scilly Isles.

The couple were about to go on a £4,000 Caribbean cruise before Ward was arrested in 2010.

Sentencing the couple at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, Judge Tom Bayliss said: “On the face of it, you are both a perfectly ordinary couple.

“You are pleasant people but underneath it all you are motivated by insatiable greed.

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“This was a gross breach of trust against your employer over a number of years. Your lifestyle was all funded by theft from an employer to whom you owed a duty of trust and a high level of responsibility.”

He added: “It may have started on a small scale but it escalated to a huge amount of money and you both enjoyed the fruits of that spending, which was funded by dishonesty.

“You were enjoying a lifestyle unimaginable for your earnings.

“We have heard that you were spending money like it was going out of fashion, and you were.”

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The court heard staff at Asda raised the alarm when they noticed Ward’s excessive spending and her “protectiveness” over the handling of cash vouchers.

Sentencing Ward to two years in prison after she admitted theft and possessing the gift vouchers for use in fraud, Mr Bayliss said: “Previously, you are of impeccable character and you are remorseful but the crime is aggravated by the fact that it was committed over a long period of time.”

Craig Hassall, defending, said: “It’s difficult to explain the reason for this offending.

“She struggles to comprehend how she has gotten herself into this situation and she was relieved to be caught so it could be brought to an end. She maintains that the responsibility is hers rather than his. It started with a trickle and at some point the flood gates opened.”

Former soldier Lobban, who denied knowing about Ward’s acts but was convicted of fraud after a trial last month, was jailed for 12 months.