Nottingham

Nottingham vicar jailed for defrauding elderly parishioner

Rev Edward Andrew Morris jailed
Image caption Rev Edward Andrew Morris (pictured here in 2007) took £5,000 in up to 20 withdrawals, the court heard

A vicar who took £5,000 from the bank account of a 96-year-old parishioner has been jailed for 10 months.

Edward Andrew Morris, who worked in the parish of Bestwood in Nottingham, had befriended Joan Pennack - known as Mavis - before he began taking money from her account.

The 62-year-old, of Rock Street in Nottingham, admitted one count of fraud by abuse of position.

A judge at Nottingham Crown Court said his actions were "appalling".

The court heard Morris, who was known to his parishioners as Andy, helped Ms Pennack move into a care home following a fall.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Joan Pennack - known as Mavis - had given Morris a bank card with access to her account, the court heard

He also helped her draw up a will in October 2016, became her next of kin and was given a bank card to access to her account.

Between 11 December 2016 and 6 January 2017, Morris made up to 20 withdrawals from her account, which was discovered following her death on 9 January 2017 by her stepdaughter Sheila Smith, the court was told.

Morris was suspended from his position following a meeting with Ms Smith and the archdeacon of Nottingham. He subsequently resigned.

'Abuse of trust'

The court heard he initially told the church investigation he had permission to make the withdrawals but when the matter was referred to the police he made a full admission.

Lucky Thandi, prosecuting, said Morris - who was previously cautioned for taking money from a safe at work - claimed to make "silly decisions" when under stress.

Judge Steven Coupland said the repeated withdrawals of money without permission could not be explained away by the difficulties he was facing in life.

"What you did was appalling," he said, adding: "The Bible makes it very plain how taking money from others is to be regarded, and what a sin it is to do that."

Following the sentencing, a Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham spokesman said: "This was a profoundly disturbing abuse of trust between a priest and his parishioner and there are no circumstances which can mitigate for such actions."

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