Former bishop jailed for theft after African scam

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A former bishop has been jailed for stealing £186,000 from church funds after a court heard he was conned into sending some of the cash to online scammers in Africa.

Disgraced magistrate Gerald Edmund, 77, only realised he had been duped by the promise of a $24m (£15m) inheritance after his thefts from the Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ were exposed.

Jailing Edmund for two years, Judge Melbourne Inman QC accepted some of the money went to bogus lawyers in the Ivory Coast.

Birmingham Crown Court heard Edmund believed he had been left millions of pounds by a religious follower in The Congo.

The clergyman, of Lansdown Road, Bristol, admitted pocketing £14,000 of petty cash, transferring £15,000 out of a church account, and cashing cheques totalling £157,000 while serving as a church treasurer and trustee in West Bromwich.

Said by his counsel to be a “broken man” after pleading guilty to fraud and two counts of theft, Edmund is known to have transferred at least £15,000 abroad and a further £350 to the Ivory Coast.

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