Priest admits fraud over thousands of pounds of church funds

Durham Crown Court.
Durham Crown Court.

A Catholic priest has admitted fraudulently diverting tens of thousands of pounds from the church.

Father John Reid, 69, from Stockton, pleaded guilty to abusing his position after he allegedly took the money from parishioners meant for charitable purposes and the upkeep of St Cuthbert's Church, Chester-le-Street.

During the four-year period, from June 2009 to October 2013, it was alleged he instead spent some of the money on foreign travel and restaurants.

He was also accused of failing to keep proper receipts and accounts.

At a previous hearing, Reid pleaded not guilty to two charges of fraud by abuse of position, but at Durham Crown Court he changed his plea and admitted one of the charges.

After the investigation was launched by Durham police in 2014, Reid withdrew from public ministry, which also included leading St Bede's Church in Sacriston.

Court officials confirmed his guilty plea and said he would be sentenced on April 7 after being granted bail.