A retired police officer who stole £22,000 while he was treasurer of a Presbyterian Church has been jailed.
Derek Carson, of Orchard Way, Portglenone, was convicted of three charges following a trial at Derry Crown Court.
They included the theft of £22,000 belonging to Churchtown Presbyterian Church, fraud by abuse of position and converting criminal property. The offences were committed between January 2007 and June 2013.
Derry Crown Court heard that Carson had been a police officer for 30 years before his retirement and was appointed Treasurer of Churchtown Presbyterian Church in 2005.
The offences came to light in 2013 when a meeting was organised with an accountant to review the accounts of the church.
The church had two accounts and the accountant found that the first did not have sufficient funds while the second was overstretched.
Carson claimed that money had been taken from his car when he was about to leave to lodge it in the bank.
He said he never reported the theft to the police, the church or his wife because he was “embarrassed by the whole matter”.
A full financial investigation was carried out and the matter reported to police.
During interview, the 55-year-old denied taking any money belonging to the church.
He accepted taking money home, claiming it was easier to lodge it from his house rather than directly from the church.
The court heard that Carson is able to pay compensation and the investigating officer in the case is in possession of the full amount.
Judge Philip Babington said: “This was quite deliberate dishonesty by the defendant who tried to avoid his responsibility to the church by creating a fantasy story of money being taken from his car”.
He added: “The defendant said nothing about this to the police, the church or indeed his own family for over two years and indeed only when he was asked by the accountant did he mention this at all. It was quite clearly a completely false story from the very start.”
The judge said Carson had “abused your position as treasurer, a trusted role in charge of the congregation’s money and that you carried on in this way for a number of years”.
He imposed a determinate sentence of 14 months, half of which will be spent in custody and half on licence.