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Church treasurer sentenced for thefts

18 December 2020

City of London Police

Craig McCulloch

Craig McCulloch

A FORMER treasurer of a church in north London has been sentenced to three years, after he admitted stealing more than £450,000 from the church, members of its congregation, a youth charity, and the college at which he worked.

Between September 2013 and December 2018, Craig McCulloch, aged 34, from Littleborough, near Whitworth, Rossendale, in Greater Manchester, took more than £130,000 from St James’s, New Barnet, and members of the congregation; £287,000 from the south London charity XLP; and almost £38,000 from the Oasis College of Higher Education in Kennington, south London.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by abuse of position, at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday of last week. The court was told that he spent most of the money on fast food, eBay purchases, and car rental.

The Vicar of St James’s, the Revd Laura Hewitt, said that the community had shared “the sense of shock and betrayal of trust”. The church had since strengthened its internal checks, and had reported the fraud as a serious incident to the Charity Commission. “I am confident that past lessons have been learnt and look forward to the next chapter for the church,” she said.

“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. 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.”

Mr McCulloch was also handed a five-year serious crime prevention order, which can restrict travel, access to technology and business services, and certain personal contacts.

DC Mark Baker, from the City of London Police’s fraud team, said that Mr McCulloch was “one of the most devious individuals I have ever dealt with, and people felt shocked and deceived. He presented an image of someone caring, involved in his local community, leading a Christian lifestyle, and being generous with his money. The fraud he has committed has impacted those concerned in different ways, with some struggling to fund important services they would normally provide.”

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