A COUPLE who rifled parking machines at Blackburn Mall have been ordered to repay £50,000 to the shopping centre by a judge.

John Leslie Riley, then 62, and Alan Stephen Shelton, then 57, were the deputy manager and manager of The Mall's car park and had worked there for 19 years, Preston Crown Court heard.

The pair were said to have spent their ill-gotten gains on lavish holidays - Riley was jailed for 36 weeks and Shelton for 30 weeks after they were accused of acting for "profit and personal greed" by sentencing judge Simon Newell.

Now following a financial investigation, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, it has been found that they jointly profited by £50,000.

Wayne Jackson, prosecuting, said that the realisable assets of the couple amounted to £50,000.

He told the court that £37,000 was already held in a solicitor's account, to meet part of the penalty.

Mr Jackson added: "The pair are jointly and severally liable for the amount."

Judge Newell gave the pair three months to pay the total amount - or face nine months in prison in default.

The judge also lifted a restraining order on the couple's home in Ashleigh Street, Darwen, as it was expected that the penalty would be met by other means.

Judge Newell added: "It is anticipated that the remaining £13,000 will be paid without selling that property."

An earlier hearing was told by prosecutor Jon Close that Shelton and Riley had worked side by side in carrying out the theft.

One would open a parking machine, to obtain the money, while the other would act as a lookout, the court heard.

The pair would then doctor the transaction logs, to cover their tracks, Mr Close added.

The court was told that they were caught out when two anonymous letters, from whistleblowers, were sent to management.

An investigation by police uncovered a wallet. at their home, containing some of the holiday tickets they had bought.

Statements from colleagues at The Mall disclosed how they generated a 'climate of suspicion' .

Centre manager Loraine Jones said the ordeal had made her ill.

Philip Holden, for Riley, said his client had no previous criminal record and was a "hard-working and well-liked individual".

James Heyworth, for Shelton, said the defendant was "fundamentally a decent person who has let himself and others down".

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Passing sentence then, Judge Newell added: "You have caused damage, harm and distress in the lives and emotions and in some cases the health of people you have worked with. You have breached their trust over a long period of time."