A COUPLE who ran a Southampton pub left overnight taking around £4,000 with them, a court heard.

Husband and wife Stephen and Deborah Read ran The Stile pub in Highfield where they were the general manager and deputy manager respectively.

After closing up on the night of June 8 last year the couple are alleged to have packed up and left, clearing out the safe at the premises which contained thousands of pounds.

Prosecutor Rod Blain told Southampton Crown Court how staff turned up for work the following day to find the pub still locked.

One staff member, chef Tim Ward, had a key and was able to get inside where he found the pub deserted.

In a statement Mr Ward described how the tills had been left on and when he went into the office to set up for trading he found the safe empty of cash.

The court heard he also found the plug for the CCTV system in the pub had been pulled out.

When Mr Ward went to find the couple who lived in a flat within the property there was no reply and on entering he found they had gone.

Mr Ward also found the keys to the pub had been posted back through the letter box, Mr Blain said.

An auditor was brought in by the owners of the pub, Punch Taverns, who found that there was around £4,000 unaccounted for.

Mr Blain said Mr Read, 60, and Mrs Read, 39, were eventually tracked down to the Humber-side area where they admitted to leaving the pub without giving notice.

The couple, who had worked at the pub on the University of Southamp-ton campus for four years, said they had been having problems with the area manager and complaints had been made against Mr Read about his stocktaking practices.

They said they had simply “had enough” and wanted to get back to Humberside where Mrs Read had a son.

During police interview the pair denied taking the money with them when they left. Both said Mr Read had “thrown” the money into the safe, leaving the key on top and left.

Mrs Read said: “We had no reason to take that money.”

The pair both face a single count of theft from the Punch Pub Company Ltd which they deny.

Jurors were due to retire to consider their verdict in the case today.