A treasurer who stole £76,000 of church funds in a “systematic and extensive” fraud lasting two years have been sent to prison for two and a half years.
Paul King, 37, abused his position at St Stephen’s Church in Lindley, Huddersfield, by directing church donations into his own account.
Leeds Crown Court heard King produced fraudulent invoices for building work which had been carried out at the church years earlier.
He then included his own bank account number on the invoice.
Mark McKone, prosecuting, said King carried out the deception between April 2015 and April 2017, arranging regular payments into his account.
The court heard the offending had left the parish church council in financial difficulties, leaving them unable to provide support local charities and people in the community who needed help.
Much of the funds stolen were donations from parishioners and elderly people who “gave more than they could afford.”
The court heard King took on the treasurer role in 2014 and continued to steal money despite being made aware of the problems it was causing.
King created a “smokescreen” by giving reassurances when the finances were discussed at a church council meeting.
King, of Buckden Court, Quarmby, Huddersfield, was arrested when a church secretary spotted the deception. He pleaded guilty to fraud.
David McGonial, said King began offending when he got into financial difficulties when he was unable to do his job as a purchaser with Jet2 due to suffering from anxiety.
The barrister said King used the money to pay debts and to look after his children. He added: “He accepts that his actions were stupid, foolish and selfish.
“He had a moral and mental breakdown.”
Jailing King, judge Simon Phillips, QC, said: “That sum was a massive amount by any standards. You will have had a good understanding how the community relied upon the church.
“You did the opposite of what you were expected to do. You secretly stole from the church.
“This was systematic and extensive dishonesty.”