A man accused of stealing thousands of pounds while serving as a church group leader has appeared in court.
Keith Ainsley is alleged to have taken more than £7,000 from the accounts of the 18th South Shields Boys’ Brigade, which is based at Talbot Road Methodist Church, South Shields.
He was acting as captain of the organisation at the time.
The 48-year-old faced two counts of fraud by abuse by position when he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
The court heard that the offences are alleged to have occured between November 2011, when Ainsley took on the role, and December 2013.
Ainsley, of Mill Lane, Whitburn, entered no pleas to the charges.
Lee Poppett, prosecuting, said that the charges were so serious that the case should be dealt with at Newcastle Crown Court.
Mr Poppett said: “The crown alleges that money was taken from the brigade’s company accounts.
“The exact value is not known but is suspected to be at least £7,650.
“Under sentencing guidelines, this is an abuse of trust and would have a starting point of 18 months in custody. The crown would invite the magistrates to decline jurisdiction.”
Laura Croft, defending, agreed that matters should bse heard at the crown court.
Peter Connor, chair of the magistrates, declined jurisdiction, with the case sent to Newcastle Crown Court for an initial hearing in the New Year.
Ainsley will apear at Newcastle Crown Court on January 26.
He was granted unconditional bail until then.