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Norfolk clergyman stole from stepdaughter's bank account

PUBLISHED: 16:00 07 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:28 02 July 2010

Mary Hamilton

A clergyman drew money from his stepdaughter's bank account and forged his wife's signature to cash in their savings, a court was told.

A clergyman drew money from his stepdaughter's bank account and forged his wife's signature to cash in their savings, a court was told.

The Rev Christopher Morgan, 44-year-old rector of the Reepham benefice, admitted taking £13,000 from savings he shared with his wife, Angela Morgan-Cromar, by forging her signature on letters requesting the money. He also admitted taking nearly £2,500 from an account set aside for stepdaughter Lydia Read, who was 16 at the time, in 2007.

Morgan pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud and two of using a false instrument to obtain money.

At Norwich Crown Court yesterday, Judge Simon Barham gave him a 12-month community order and told him to do 200 hours of unpaid work. Morgan was also told to pay £2,242.90 in compensation to Miss Read.

David Wilson, prosecuting, said there had been 62 online transactions made from Miss Read's young saver's account, withdrawing more than £13,000. He added: “Two large repayments of £5,000 and £6,000 were paid back into the account, but £2,242.90 remains outstanding from the transactions made by Morgan.

Mr Wilson said Morgan's behaviour was uncovered by his wife, who forgave him, but when their marriage broke down the matter was fully investigated and brought to court.

Michael Clare, for Morgan, said: “Mr Morgan forged the signatures of his wife in order to deal in a quiet way with the matrimonial finances and to keep the household solvent.

“He maintains that he did not know whose account he was taking money from and that he did not know it was his stepdaughter's money.”

Mr Clare said Morgan had not abused his position as a rector.

The benefice includes Reepham, Salle and Thurning, but the court was told Morgan would have to resign as a result of the conviction.

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