Roman Catholic priest pleads not guilty to fraud charges after church's £90k fund goes missing

The case was heard at Peterlee Magistrates' Court.
The case was heard at Peterlee Magistrates' Court.

A Roman Catholic priest has denied accusations of fraud and abusing a position of trust after £90,000 allegedly went missing from a parish church.

Father John Reid, from Stockton, is facing two charges after initially being arrested more than two years ago.

He is accused of diverting tens of thousands of pounds donated by parishioners, intended for charitable causes and the upkeep of St Cuthbert's Church, Chester-le-Street, to himself.

He is also accused of failing to keep proper receipts and accounts as he was required to do.

The charges relate to a four-year period, between June 2009 and October 2013.

At the time, the 69-year-old was also in charge of St Bede's Church in Sacriston, County Durham.

John Garside, prosecuting, told Peterlee Magistrates' Court the allegations involved an "abuse of trust and power".

Reid, who pleaded not guilty to both charges of fraud by abuse of position, withdrew from public ministry after the investigation was launched by Durham Police in 2014.

He was granted bail and will appear at Durham Crown Court next month.