Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 11:23 UK

Couple admit cash machine thefts

An investment banker and her husband have been given suspended jail terms for stealing £61,000 from a faulty cash machine in Essex.

Joanne Jones, 33, and Darren, 29, of Wickford, Essex, withdrew £300 a day over 88 days from an HSBC machine in Billericay, Basildon Crown Court heard.

They were caught when CCTV cameras were installed to investigate the missing cash from the faulty machine.

Judge Christopher Mitchell said they were motivated by "greed".

They spent £9,000 on a sports car and more than £1,000 on a bathroom suite and had £27,000 in separate envelopes marked "holiday money", "car money", "clothes money", "kitchen money" and "baby money".

Like a 'fairytale'

The court heard they withdrew the cash, starting in March last year, after discovering the machine did not record transactions from accounts with an "unauthorised overdraft".

Mrs Jones, who earned £40,000 a year, lost her job after pleading guilty to the theft. Mr Jones also admitted the theft.

The total amount stolen was £61,400, the court heard.

Sentencing the couple to nine-month jail terms, suspended for two years, Judge Mitchell, also ordered them to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and to be supervised for two years.

He said: "It's like something of a fairytale. Putting a bit of plastic in the wall and the money comes tumbling out - and no record on their bank account."

The judge said he had decided custody was not "appropriate" because the offences had not involved a breach of trust.

Mr Jones said outside court: "We regret it deeply."

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