Sunday, October 02, 2016

Catholic priest facing trial over £90,000 fraud allegations

A CATHOLIC priest has denied allegations of fraud relating to church funds syphoned off for his own use. 

Father John Reid is to stand trial at Durham Crown Court next year over an estimated £90,000 he allegedly fraudulently acquired while he was priest at St Cuthbert’s RC Church, in Chester-le-Street

It follows Fr Reid’s appearance at a plea and trial preparation hearing at the court to answer for two counts of fraud by abuse of position as parish priest, brought under the Fraud Act of 2006. 

The charges arise from a period of almost four-and-a-half years after he took over as priest in charge at St Cuthbert’s, a role which also took in St Bede’s RC Church in nearby Sacriston.

It is said that while expected to, “safeguard, or not act against” the financial interests of the Roman Catholic diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, he failed to draw, “only modest and legitimate” expenses, as well as failing to set up a finance committee and to keep proper receipts and accounts, which he was required to do. 

The second charge alleges diversion of money donated by parishioners, intended for church upkeep and charitable purposes, for his own use. 

Both cover a period from June 1, 2009 to October 31, 2013, following his move to St Cuthbert’s Church, having previously served in positions at churches at Leadgate, Tow Law and St Thomas, at Willington. 

The 69-year-old priest denied both counts and the case was adjourned for a trial, expected to run for up to seven days, starting at the court on Tuesday May 2 next year.

Fr Reid, who has withdrawn from public ministry since the police investigation was launched in May 2014, was bailed to an address care/of St Patrick’s Presbytery, Fairfield Road, Stockton.

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