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Church treasurer jailed over £450,000 frauds

by Press Association
Photo Credit: City of London Police - Banner image
Photo Credit: City of London Police

A church treasurer who swindled more than £450,000 from charities has been jailed for three years.

Craig McCulloch, 34, stole more than £130,000 in funds from the congregation and bank account of St James Church in New Barnet, north London, where he volunteered between September 2013 and December 2018.

He also defrauded £287,000 from south London-based young person's charity XLP and almost £38,000 from the Oasis College of Higher Education in Kennington, also in south London, while he was working in their accounting departments.

City of London police said McCulloch, of Littleborough, Lancashire, "squandered" most of the money on fast food takeaways, eBay purchases and rental cars.

He was jailed for three years at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud by abuse of position and was handed a five-year serious crime prevention order.

Vicar of St James Church,  Rev Laura Jane Hewitt, said in a statement: "In our community we share the sense of shock and betrayal of trust, despite having shown great resilience in recent months, continuing in generosity, growing in faith, worship and service to the community.

"We identify with the other charities who have been damaged by Craig McCulloch's actions.

"Now that justice has been done, we hope and pray that Craig himself will seek to put his life right and find a fresh start.

"Regrettably, we are unlikely to see restitution of the money lost, but as we come to terms with that, we are closer to each other than before."

Detective Constable Mark Baker, from the City of London Police's fraud team, said: "McCulloch is one of the most devious individuals I have ever dealt with.

"He stole charity and church donations and used them for his own personal gain. He presented an image of someone caring, involved in his local community, leading a Christian lifestyle, and being generous with his money.

"His actions have left many people feeling shocked and deceived.

"The fraud he has committed has impacted the charities concerned in different ways, with some struggling to fund important services they would normally provide."

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