A Haverhill clergyman accused of defrauding his own church has today (Monday) gone on trial at Ipswich Crown Court.
Rev Ian Finn, 55, is charged with obtaining more than £13,000 by not handing over fees for funeral services and reading banns for weddings.
The court heard that Finn, of Hopton Rise, Haverhill had been the priest in charge at the town’s St Mary the Virgin Church at the time of the alleged offence.
Finn has pleaded not guilty to fraud by abuse of his position between June 2007 and March 2014 involving a total of £13,237.
The public gallery was packed with Finn’s supporters as the trial, which is expected to last for a week, got underway.
The prosecution allege that Finn had told funeral directors to pay for services by cash or by cheques made out to him which he then paid into his own bank account.
Charles Myatt, prosecuting, told the jury that despite attending a training course at which was highlighted the need for all payments to be made to the parochial church council, Finn had insisted that his way was best.
Auditors alerted by Finn’s curate and a new parish treasurer who spotted irregularities in quarterly returns required by the diocesan authorities showed that payments for 143 funerals and 65 reading of banns had never been declared over a seven year period, said Mr Myatt.
Finn, who told church officials that he was not good with figures or administration, had the day after a meeting to discuss the situation produced a list of what he believed were the payments he had not declared and arranged for payment to cover them to
be made from his bank, the court heard.
Th trial continues.