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Church of England official took £5.2m and spent it on flights and Burberry

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A Church of England official who “took extra flights than Alan Whicker” spent the proceeds of a £5.2 million fraud on Burberry, Ted Baker and on-line fruit machines, a court docket heard.

Martin Sargeant, 53, was head of operations for the Diocese of London, which controls church buildings and their coffers within the capital.

He requested money for “dysfunctional church buildings” and the cash went straight into his pocket.  Sargeant pocketed simply over £5.2 million and the money was “lavished on his way of life”, prosecutor Joey Kwong advised Southwark Crown Courtroom. 

He purchased seven properties, three of them in Scotland value £1 million “together with a riverside log cabin which might be rented out as a enterprise,” mentioned the prosecutor.

‘Alan Whicker wouldn’t have clocked up as many flights’

Mr Kwong mentioned an announcement from an American Categorical checking account confirmed Sarjeant spent £2,700 at trend retailer Ted Baker in February 2012.

“In January 2013, £1,616 spent at Burberry and £4,000 spent on inns in the identical month … and within the three months between Might and July 2013 he spent £30,000 on the Soho Resort in London,” Mr Kwong mentioned.

Sargeant was a BA frequent flyer who flew over 180 instances with the airline between 2010 and 2019, with flights to New York and different such locations, the court docket heard.

At a earlier listening to, Malachy Packenham, prosecuting, referenced the late Alan Whicker, who introduced the favored journey documentary collection Whicker’s World on TV from 1958 to 1994, when he mentioned: “Alan Whicker wouldn’t have clocked up as many flights as this defendant did.”

The Diocese of London haven’t been in a position to preserve their buildings and a few have been closed to the general public, based on an influence assertion learn to the court docket.

Sargeant had ‘long-standing playing habit’

Mark Ruffell, defending, mentioned Sargeant has a “long-standing playing habit”. He advised the court docket: “This wasn’t a fraud from the beginning, It was a fraud that happened as a result of he had affect with substantial quantities of cash.

“He defined firstly of that interview that he had a playing habit and at some factors was dropping £20,000 a day from on-line fruit machines”.

Mr Ruffell mentioned Sargeant’s playing habit started when he was simply 15 and would bunk off faculty to position bets. 

Mr Ruffell advised the court docket that Sargeant “created a fantasy life to cover lies” and that he’s “sorry for every little thing”.

Sargeant, of Maughan Avenue, Dudley, West Midlands, admitted one depend of fraud by abuse of place and was jailed for 5 years. 

Decide Michael Grieve, KC, advised him: “You admitted that as you probably did this you knew the church was near chapter.

“This was a classy fraud carried out systematically for a interval 11 years ensuing to an enormous loss to the church buildings of London which they may sick afford.”

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