A FORMER church treasurer has been forgiven after he “betrayed” a community by defrauding a Salisbury diocese benefice of approximately £96,000.
Roger Ladbury, aged 80, was given a conditional caution by Wiltshire Police last month for misappropriating the funds between 2008 and 2017 from St Peter’s, Britford, and the Chalke Valley Team Ministry.
The news was announced to parishioners last month, after a two-year investigation. Mr Ladbury has received the conditional caution on the basis that he repays all the money, confesses and receives absolution, writes a letter of admission and apology to parishioners, and listens to victims’ impact statements that describe the damage that he caused.
The Team Rector of Chalke Valley, the Revd Catherine Blundell, said: “A conditional caution allows Roger to face the consequences of his actions, but avoids a lengthy court case or a possible prison sentence for an elderly man. This, we feel, allows us to demonstrate clear Christian values in the resolution of this matter.”
A conditional caution is unusual in a situation such as this, Ms Blundell said. She apologised that the matter had not been made public earlier, which was because of the police investigation. “Roger was a neighbour and a friend of many of the people he stole from, and that leads to a strong sense of betrayal, and it will take the communities time to heal,” she said.
“But, now that the money has been repaid, and Roger has confessed and apologised, we hope that, as churches, we can move on from this.
“We do not want this one act to define us because, as churches, we reach out into the communities we serve with generosity and love.”
Ms Blundell asked the parishioners of the Chalke Valley to pray for Mr Ladbury and his wife. A review of the treasurer system has taken place in the aftermath of the incident, she said.