Culmore church's ex-treasurer admits theft of £34,000 from parish she served
A former treasurer of the Church of Ireland parish of Culmore on the outskirts of Londonderry has pleaded guilty at the city's Crown Court to a total of 19 charges of stealing from church funds.
Lyndsey Bredin (27), from Primity Crescent in Newbuildings in the Waterside area of the city, had originally pleaded guilty to 10 of the 19 charges involving her stealing £19,000.
However, when she was re-arraigned before Judge Philip Babington, she pleaded guilty to a further nine charges.
The total amount of money she has admitted stealing from her former employer between March 2010 and August 2011 is now £34,000.
When asked by Judge Babington how much of the money Bredin had repaid, defence barrister Ivor McAteer said none so far, but he said a schedule for her to start making repayments was in the process of being drawn up.
He said he hoped the repayment process would start within the next four to five weeks.
Judge Babington said the offending crossed the custody threshold and he said repayments, or a lack of them, prior to her sentencing was something he would have to take into consideration.
He adjourned sentencing until April 11 and ordered the preparation of a pre-sentence report for that date.
In the meantime the former parish treasurer, who was accompanied in court by a church minister and by several members of her current congregation, was released on continuing bail.
The young mother, who gave birth last month, left the Culmore church she stole from and joined a Methodist church where she lives.
Following her last court appearance, her former church said they were praying for her.
A statement said: "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."
Her current minister, Reverend Richard Bryant, said 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."