Creative Commons

Churchwarden pleads guilty after stealing from renovation fund

Mon 28 Aug 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

A churchwarden from Northumberland has stolen £44,000 that was set aside to renovate the church, a court has heard.

According to the Newcastle Chronicle, prosecutors accused 48-year-old Steven Clark of taking the cash over nearly two years from St Michael and Angels Church, in Alnham.

Laura Lax, a prosecutor in the case told the court: “In 2015, the defendant applied for Lottery funding and grants for the restoration of the church and for a project to make the church an information centre for learning and education and also a centre for residents to access help.

“The persons involved in the church were aware of the project and happy the defendant was heading it up.

“The defendant opened a second Lloyds bank account for the church and he obtained funding and the grant was £59,432.05.

“Some was used for the proper project but the majority was transferred into the defendant’s personal account and used by him for everyday living expenses.”

South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court heard that the incident happened between 1st January 2015 and 27th November 2016.

It was also told that Clark was accused of submitting forged receipts and invoices to organisations to get the funds for the project.

According to the Newcastle Chronicle, Clark pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and will face a possible prison sentence.

The paper reports that Clark’s defence team insisted that he took less than £44,000 and was in the process of paying the money back.

Geoffrey Forrester , defence lawyer added: “From the moment this came to light, Mr Clark has been putting in place finance so that when this matter is dealt with, the community will not lose a penny.”

Magistrates sent Clark to Newcastle Crown Court for sentencing.

His next court date is on 22nd September.

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