Belfast Telegraph

Church praying for the ex-treasurer who stole £21,000 in parish funds

BY GEORGE JACKSON AND CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

The congregation of a church whose former treasurer admitted stealing £21,000 of parish funds say they will remember her in their prayers.

Lyndsey Bredin, from Primity Crescent in Newbuildings, Londonderry, has now left the church she stole from, but was supported in court yesterday by parishioners and a minister from the congregation she now attends.

She yesterday pleaded guilty to committing 10 offences when she was employed by Culmore Church of Ireland in Derry between March 2010 and October 2011.

However, the 27-year-old, who is eight months' pregnant, pleaded not guilty to nine other charges of stealing just over £11,000 from parish funds, also between March 2010 and October 2011.

In a statement her former church said: "We are relieved, for all concerned, that the legal process has begun to address this distressing matter.

"We thank the relevant authorities for their diligence.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been affected.

"This includes the parishioners and friends of Culmore and Muff parish union.

"Guided by the compassionate teachings of Christ, we also remember in our prayers our former treasurer."

Ms Bredin, who has worshipped at the Methodist Church in Newbuildings for the past year, was accompanied in court by her parents – who it is believed still attend Culmore Church of Ireland – and the pastor of her new church, Reverend Richard Bryant, and his wife Mary.

Rev Bryant told the Belfast Telegraph he believed the role of the church is not to judge, but to love.

"It's my job as a representative of her church to be there and give her pastoral support.

"The role of the church is not to judge but to love."

He continued: "We are not like the courts, we are not like any other body in society. We are trying to model what we learn from scripture which is to love everyone and welcome everyone and treat everyone as fairly and equally as possible.

"She is a member of our church and we are there to support her, as we would anyone."

He added: "Forgiveness is a central tenet of Christianity.

"I support her on that basis, that if she has truly sought forgiveness from God, that's what we said and that's what we believe.

"I don't give the forgiveness, God does."

The case, at Derry Crown Court, was adjourned by Judge Philip Babington until February 27 to enable discussions between Ms Bredin's legal team and the Public Prosecution Service.

The defendant has been released on continuing bail until that date.

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