Robert Saunderson: Glenwherry Presbyterian Church treasurer who stole £125k avoids jail

Robert Saunderson: Glenwherry Presbyterian Church treasurer who stole £125k avoids jail
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A farmer who abused his place as a church treasurer to swindle practically £125,000 has prevented jail.

obert Saunderson (67) was informed the choice to not put him behind bars “was borderline’’.

Saunderson had already pleaded responsible and has since repaid most of what he stole.

Antrim Crown Court was informed he additionally alerted authorities to £6,000 he had “uncovered’’ himself.

Just over per week in the past, he was handed a two-year jail sentence suspended for 3 years.

“I don’t suppose I’ve ever come throughout somebody figuring out additional cash that they’ve stolen and providing to pay it again,’’ a prosecution lawyer informed the courtroom.

Saunderson was treasurer for Glenwherry Presbyterian Church in Co Antrim.

Alarm bells first rang when the church carried out an audit of two accounts, revealing a discrepancy of greater than £21,000.

“The treasurer of the church, Robert Saunderson, who had been the church treasurer for roughly 18 years, was approached and he suggested that he had the lacking funds in his dwelling secure however had misplaced the important thing,” stated the lawyer.

When no cash appeared, Saunderson admitted he had spent among the cash however would repay it.

“At this stage, Glenwherry Presbyterian Church accepted this and thought that was the matter resolved.”

It then emerged Saunderson had stolen a a lot bigger sum of cash.

He had written cheques for himself and his spouse “by falsifying the church data in relation to grease funds, missions donations and United Appeal monies”.

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Saunderson was arrested, questioned and admitted he didn’t maintain a report of what he had stolen.

The dairy farmer informed detectives he wanted the cash to pay private payments and had deliberate to pay it again.

The courtroom was additionally informed his spouse was questioned however informed police she had no thought her husband had been taking cash from the church and solely found that he had after his second police interview. A defence lawyer accepted the offences represented a “monumental fall from grace”, however he had been informed to “state publicly, in courtroom, that he (Saunderson) expresses his deepest and honest apologies and regret regarding his disgraceful conduct”.

He described how the offences had not simply affected Saunderson, but in addition his complete household who’ve “in essence, turn out to be social pariahs”.

“They dwell in a rural neighborhood the place the church and church activists had been central to their lives,” the lawyer stated.

“Meetings, leisure actions, that has all ended they usually really feel that very a lot they usually perceive why persons are so grossly aggravated.”

Urging the choose to not jail Saunderson, he added: “The lifetime of labor and the legacy his father left him won’t ever ever be proper once more… his livestock, his flock of pedigree sheep, they can’t be taken into care however might be bought and bought very instantly and the farm might be dropped at an finish.”

The courtroom was informed Saunderson had purchased a variety of rental properties and land however they turned out to be a “full and whole monetary catastrophe… an extra millstone round his neck” and it was then that he started to take cash from the church.

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Judge Neil Rafferty stated it’s clear Saunderson “is ashamed and that he has deep remorse about what he has accomplished and the lack of his repute throughout the church and the broader neighborhood”. He stated Saunderson deserved credit score for his plea, the actual fact he had paid the cash again, and the way in which he had alerted the authorities to the additional cash.

The choose informed him: “The actuality, Mr Saunderson, is that at 67, you’ve misplaced your good identify, misplaced the standing that you just had loved in the neighborhood and you could dwell with the data that you’ve accomplished all that by your individual hand. You have nearly escaped an instantaneous custodial sentence and once more, you solely have your self in charge for that.”

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