A GREAT HARWOOD man who discovered nearly £2,500 had been paid into his bank account unexpectedly decided to spend the money on a "good Christmas" and worry about the consequences later.

Blackburn magistrates heard the money was the result of a scam carried on an elderly couple who had been scared into parting with money by the threat of bailiffs.

And Steven Bradley told the court that if he had known where the money had come from he would not have spent it.

Bradley, 44, of Harwood Lane, Great Harwood, pleaded guilty to retaining a wrongful credit. He was made subject to a community order for 12 months with 120 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £85 costs and £85 victim surcharge.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said the victim of the scam had been contacted by someone claiming to be a debt collector. She was given bank details and warned that if she didn't pay the debt would rise to £5,000 with court costs.

Bradley denied any involvement in the fraud and said he had simply checked his bank account, which he said was only used for his wages and tax credits to be paid into, and found the money.

"He decided to access the cash as quickly as possible," said Mrs Yates.

Bradley said he had gone to the cash machine just before Christmas and discovered the cash. He thought it was tax credits but decided whatever the source he would have a good Christmas with his family and worry about it later.

Having been told by the police that the money had been conned out of an elderly couple he accepted he should have investigated further.