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Church finances will take 'generations to recover' after treasurer stole £37k

by Tola Mbakwe

A Belfast man has been sentenced to nine months in jail after using his position as treasurer to steal £37,475 from a church.

Denis William Mackie, 58, from Thornhill Grove in Belfast, has admitted stealing from St Dorothea's Parish Church between November 2009 and October 2015

He also admitted stealing £39,190 from the Belfast Music Festival, while he was also a treasurer for the charity. 

Belfast Crown Court was told "it will take generations" for the finances of the church to "recover", and that the future of the 110-year-old Belfast Music Festival is up in the air. 

Mackie wrote a series of unauthorised cheques and paid the money into either his own account or St Dorothea's.

The prosecutor said that as Mackie was also taking money from the festival account and depositing it into the church's accounts, saying there was "a certain amount of robbing Peter to pay Paul".

Mackie's defence lawyer he used the stolen money for his children's university fees. 

Mackie was treasurer of the church from 2005 to 2016 and had been part of the congregation since he was a child. 

A leader from St Dorothea's said "the hurt was is palpable" amongst the congregation.

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