Former treasurer took £170,000 from East Hampshire church

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A MAN has been sentenced by a judge after stealing £170,000 from a church.

Charles Meader, of Moggs Mead, Petersfield, appeared at Winchester Crown Court and was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete 250 hours of community service.

The judge heard the former church council treasurer admitted fraud and theft from St Mary Magdalen Church in Sheet, near Petersfield, over six years, starting in 2006.

The court heard some £40,000 had been repaid soon after the losses were uncovered last year.

During the time of the thefts Meader was involved in the Petersfield Area Churches Together group and helped a church magazine.

The Rev Richard Saunders, the vicar for Sheet, said: ‘The church leadership is very sorry it didn’t spot the loss more quickly.

‘There is particular regret that money for mission agencies that help people around the world did not reach its destination. The church is very aware of its responsibility to handle carefully all donations given in good faith and the parish has changed the way that money is handled.’

He said parishioners had shown ‘true Christian love’ and continued to support the church.