Belfast Telegraph

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Prison beckons for Belfast swindler who conned church out of thousands

 

Denis William Mackie
Denis William Mackie

By Christopher Woodhouse

This is the serial fraudster who is facing jail after swindling thousands from a church and a music festival.

Disgraced Denis William Mackie pleaded guilty last week to four charges in relation to a series of cheque frauds over six years.

The 58-year-old wrote unauthorised cheques and made cash withdrawals drawn on the bank accounts of St Dorothea's Parish Church in east Belfast.

According to court documents, Mackie carried out the frauds between November 2009 and October 2015. He committed the same type of fraud against the Belfast Music Festival between October 2014 and April 2016.

Mackie also admitted to presenting a cheque for £18,000 in the name of St Dorothea's Parish Church which was not authorised by the church's cheque signatories.

At Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday, His Honour Judge Philip Gilpin ordered a pre-sentence report and a psychiatric report on Mackie ahead of his sentencing.

Mackie, who has an address on Thornhill Grove in Belfast, was released on continuing bail.

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It's not the first time Mackie has been in the dock to face charges of cheating people out of thousands of pounds.

In 2017 he was jailed for six months after he admitted defrauding an elderly couple and a person who was living in New Zealand at the time.

They were clients of the Law Society (NI) Financial Advice Ltd, of which Mackie was a director.

At his sentencing hearing, Belfast Crown Court was told he used the money, totalling £53,000, to help pay of his mortgage.

Though he was in debt, he also used the stolen money to fund holidays to Honolulu, Las Vegas, Portugal and Malaga.

Mackie also took £3,500 from the accounts and gave it to Gilnahirk Parish Church, where he was treasurer at the time.

His crimes came to light following an internal investigation into suspicions of misuse of client funds.

Mackie resigned as a director in September 2014 which coincided with a client raising concerns about low funds in his account.

It was revealed four cheques worth a total of £50,000 had been taken from his account and lodged into accounts held by Mackie.

He lodged £10,000 into his personal bank account with the Nationwide and £40,000 into his Santander mortgage account.

A fifth cheque for £3,500 was drawn from the account of an elderly couple and this money was then placed into Gilnahirk Parish Church's account.

The frauds were committed between September 2012 and June 2014.

Law Society (NI) Financial Advice Ltd reimbursed the clients affected, while Mackie repaid all the money he defrauded.

He was sentenced to six months in jail with a further six months spent on licence.

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