Tyne & Wear

Catholic priest Father John Reid spared jail over £50k fraud

Father John Reid Image copyright Durham Police
Image caption Father John Reid has agreed to pay back the £50,000 within three months

A Roman Catholic priest who defrauded his parish out of more than £50,000 and lavished thousands on his housekeeper and her family has been spared jail.

Father John Reid's fraud was an "aberration" which persisted over 40 months while at St Cuthbert's Church in Chester-le-Street, the court heard.

The 70-year-old previously admitted one count of fraud by abuse of position.

At Durham Crown Court he was handed an 18-month suspended sentence and agreed to pay back £50,000 over three months.

The court heard he spent £1,200 on cutlery, was a member of the Sunday Times Wine Club and spent £80 on oysters and smoked salmon while holidaying in Scotland.

When the priest was replaced, his successor found the parish home was "dirty and littered with alcohol bottles", the court heard.

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