The trial of a Hampshire couple accused of illegally making money from the care home they worked at has collapsed at Winchester Crown Court.

Jim and Kim Swaby, who had denied any wrongdoing from the start, were facing the charges after auditors for Hampshire County Council who controlled the care home, said they had found some £101,000 unaccounted for.

However following the closure of the prosecution's case, Judge Richard Pryor QC ordered the jury of 12 to return not guilty verdicts on the Swabys on all charges.

Mr Swaby, 40, had been the manager of the Upton Grey Close home in Harestock for people with learning difficulties since 1993, while his wife Kim, 42, had been a night worker at the home for the 15 residents.

The county council's auditors claimed that since 1995 petty cash receipts or balance sheets worth tens of thousands of pounds had been either destroyed or defaced leading to the allegations of false accounting.

Mr Swaby, of Rectory Place near Weyhill, pleaded not guilty to four sample charges of theft to the value of £2,240 along with six charges of false accounting by concealing or destroying balance sheets and three charges of destroying or defacing petty cash receipts to the value of more than £82,000.

Mrs Swaby had faced charges of obtaining by deception by lying about the overtime she had worked.

Hampshire County Council Assistant County Treasurer, Ejner Knudsen, said: "We are very disappointed that the case has collapsed.

"We will be discussing with the Crown Prosecution Service and the police as to why the case broke down, until we know these details we can not say what the future of this issue will be."