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Northern Ireland man Stanley Murphy denies £120k theft from Masons

By Ashleigh McDonald

A former treasurer of a masonic lodge appeared in court, charged with stealing around £120,000 from the organisation.

Stanley William Murphy, from Broomhill Court in Magheralin, appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday where he denied a total of 15 offences.

The 63-year old Co Down man is facing a charge of fraud by abuse of position, as well as 14 separate counts of theft.

Murphy was charged with, and denied, intending to make a gain for himself or cause a loss to another by abusing his position as treasurer "in which he was expected to safeguard or not act against the interests of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim".

The offence relates to a period between January 14, 2007 and July 9, 2009.

Murphy was also charged with 14 separate counts of theft, and he is accused of stealing around £120,000 in varying amounts on dates between July 2006 and July 2009.

After Murphy entered not guilty pleas to all the charges against him, his solicitor said his client was a "man of previously good character".

Branding the charges as both "serious" and "historic", the solicitor said the defence case would require expert forensic accountants.

Revealing the crux of the case concerned cheques lodged into bank accounts, the solicitor said part of Murphy's defence was that signatures may have been forged.

After hearing there were no Crown concerns over bail, Murphy was released from the dock by Judge David McFarland and told to return to the same court for his trial, which is due to take place on June 14.

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