A former church treasurer who was jailed for stealing more than £80,000 from three churches will be forced to pay back what she stole.

Zita Ulu, of Park Avenue in Mitcham, worked as a treasurer at the Mitcham Methodist Church, Southfields Methodist Church and the Wandle Valley Methodist Circuit between 2007 to 2010.

During this time it emerged she had funnelled £81,305 into her account by withdrawing money using a cheque book from each church for which she was a signatory.

The 58-year-old was sentenced to three years and four months in prison at Kingston Crown Court on Friday, June 28, after pleading guilty to three counts of fraud by abuse of position.

But it was not until recently that police were able to prove where she had hidden the money and secure a confiscation order forcing her to pay back what she had stolen.

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Williams, Merton police borough commander, said: "We have been trying for a while to find out where she had hidden the money.

"Thanks to some brilliant detective work by DC Allen we got restraining orders on her residential property.

"When Ulu was produced in custody, she was issued with a confiscation order for £81,305 as we were able to prove where and how she had hidden the money.

"Ulu was told she has to repay fully within six months or serve a further two years in prison."

In time recovered funds are expected to be returned to the churches affected.