A POST MISTRESS’ husband has appeared in court accused of faking an armed robbery at a village post office when £26,000 was allegedly stolen from the safe.
Postal assistant Paul Ingham faces charges of theft and perverting the course of justice less than a week after he reported the raid at the Post Office in Cockfield, near Bishop Auckland.
His wife, sub-postmistress Colleen Ingham, 62, was also arrested and has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.
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Mr Ingham, of Front Street, Cockfield, did not enter a plea for the offences when he appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court today (Monday, March 31).
Armed response officers, sniffer dogs and a police helicopter were called to the Post Office on Front Street at around 5.45pm on Tuesday, March 25, following reports of a robbery.
At the time, Durham Police told the media that Mr Ingham, 60, had been closing up on his own when two intruders forced him to hand over a large quantity of cash from the safe.
One man was reportedly brandishing a small handgun.
An information appeal, including descriptions of the assailants, was issued and forensic experts combed the scene of the crime for clues.
The charges accuse Mr Ingham of perverting the course of justice by falsely reporting a robbery had taken place in which a large quantity of money was stolen from the safe.
He is also accused of stealing £26,000, including a quantity of Euros, belonging to the Post Office.
Mr Ingham spoke only to confirm his name, age and address before magistrates committed the case to Durham Crown Court.
Prosecutor Lynne Roberts-Plowman requested Mr Ingham be remanded in custody until the hearing on Monday, April 14.
His solicitor, Mike Clarke, made no application for bail.
Cockfield Post Office is closed until further notice.
A spokesperson from the Post Office said it was a temporary closure, adding: “We will update customers on the provision of service shortly and apologise for the inconvenience caused.”