Bentley ordered to community service

DISGRACED church treasurer Peter Bentley who defrauded his parish of more than £1,000 has been ordered to do 200 hours community service.Bentley, 66, former treasurer of St Peter's Church, Monks Eleigh, forged signatures on the church's accounts and used church funds to pay his own electricity bill, a court heard.

DISGRACED church treasurer Peter Bentley who defrauded his parish of more than £1,000 has been ordered to do 200 hours community service.

Bentley, 66, former treasurer of St Peter's Church, Monks Eleigh, forged signatures on the church's accounts and used church funds to pay his own electricity bill, a court heard.

"In this case the fall from grace has been spectacular and public," said Stephen Dyble, mitigating for Bentley at Bury St Edmunds Crown Court.

Bentley, of Hadleigh Road, Monks Eleigh, previously admitted two charges of forgery and two charges of obtaining money orders by deception.


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Charles Myatt, prosecuting, said Bentley was a member of the parochial church council for ten years and handled the church accounts.

Up until 1993, the accounts were subjected to an independent audit by an accountant in the village. But after he moved away, the court heard, Mr Bentley was unable to find someone else to take over the role.

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"It seems he initially did find someone to assist but that never materialised," Mr Myatt said. "However, the accounts were purported to have been audited by someone else – but that person does not exist."

Mr Dyble said Bentley had already suffered, regardless of sentence, as his good name had been ruined by the court case.

"The humiliation he feels is complete," he said.

Sentencing Bentley to a community punishment order and to pay costs of £718.50, Judge Philip Curl said it was "a sad business".

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