Audley charity thief Robert Plant must pay back £78,000
JAILED thief Robert Plant has been ordered to pay back the tens of thousands of pounds he stole from a church and charity – plus interest.
The former banker is currently serving 18 months in prison after stealing £42,094 from Audley and Hardingswood Educational Relief Charity and £24,015 from Halmerend Methodist Church.
Now the 69-year-old has been ordered to pay back the cash – with the interest added on.
It means Plant must hand over £48,408.10 to the charity and £25,216.79 to the church.
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It is understood around a further £4,000 will be paid to Staffordshire Police.
The order was made at a proceeds of crime hearing at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday.
Judge Paul Glenn warned Plant that he may have to serve an extra 18 months in jail if he fails to pay the money by March 25. But he could be given more time to sell his house if needed.
Community leaders today welcomed the court order.
Audley parish councillor Betty Kinnersley, of Vernon Avenue, said: "Some of the organisations were very small charities and community groups and I know it had quite a devastating effect on them.
"I feel sorry for his family but if you steal then you must pay the price."
Retired care worker Mary Moss, aged 71, of Queen Street, Audley, said: "t is great news for the community that he is being made to pay the money back. It was a lot of money he took from people and I know how much it would mean for certain groups to get it back.
"It takes a lot of time to get money together and it was such a shame that one individual can ruin that.
"I think it is a good example of justice being done and if he has taken the money then he should pay it back.
Plant, of Boyles Hall Road, Bignall End, was jailed in June after pleading guilty to two charges of theft and two charges of false accounting.
The Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence in respect of a charge of obtaining property by deception which Plant denied. Judge Glenn entered a not guilty verdict.
Plant was the clerk of the charity when he stole the cash between 2001 and 2008. He stole the church cash between 2005 and 2011.
The court heard Plant had set up his own fruit and veg business after retiring from NatWest Bank where he was a lending manager.
But the business declined and Plant began stealing from the charity and the church. Plant's offending came to light after a new chairman was appointed to the charity in 2009. She discovered one of the beneficiaries, Audley Pensioners Association, had not received a grant in 2008 or 2009. And Wood Lane Young at Heart Club and Halmerend Wednesday Club had not received one for nine years.
Plant also falsified the accounts for Halmerend Methodist Church where he was treasurer for 40 years.