Criminal couple ordered to pay £200k

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A SOUTH YORKSHIRE couple who were part of an organised gang which stole £6 million worth of upmarket vehicles to order have been ordered to pay back £200,000 to the authorities.

Gary Swinden, 52, of Field Drive, Barnsley, benefited from his crimes to the tune of £138,724.32.

His partner Victoria Laws, 41, was found to have gained £44,712.99.

Swinden was ordered to pay back £78,073.33 and has until February 2012 to make the payment or face 21 months in prison.

Laws must pay back the full amount before February 2012 or face 16 months imprisonment.

In an earlier hearing at Leeds Crown Court, members of the 14-strong gang had admitted charges including conspiring to burgle, conspiring to handle stolen goods and conspiring to defraud.

Swinden was jailed for seven years while Laws received a suspended sentence.

Their crimes were committed in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Officers from five forces discovered the gang broke into homes that had expensive cars on the drive, often whilst the occupants were asleep.

They stole the keys and sold the cars on.

In April 2010 a three-day raid was mounted by five police forces. Rounds of ammunition, and blank vehicle documents were found along with £100,000 behind a panel in the bathroom of a property at Pony Paddocks Caravan Park, Toll Bar, Doncaster.

Swinden and Laws were the facilitators.

Through their business, Zebra Studios, in Eldon Street North, Barnsley, they supplied cloned licence plates and documentation.

When they were sentenced in December 2010, the judge said they were ‘professional criminals’.

A financial investigation followed led by the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team.

Detective chief inspector Lisa Atkinson said: “They were running an extremely lucrative business but thanks to the confiscation orders passed today, we have not only brought them to justice but stripped them of the proceeds of their crimes.”

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