A MAN who assisted a church treasurer, “disposing” of more than £20,000 stolen from the parish, must repay £1,860 of the money.

Proceeds of crime inquiries into the where-with-all of Peter Taylor confirmed he benefitted from his role in the crime by £6,500, but his available assets, cash seized from him by the police on his re-arrest in June, amounted to only £1,860.

That sum will be confiscated from the 59-year-old and paid as compensation, to be split between St Michael and All Angels Church, in Esh Village, near Durham, and the Co-op bank.

A sum of £800 will go to the church and £1,060 to the bank, which also lost out through the criminal actions of Taylor.

Judge Christopher Prince made the orders at Durham Crown Court, after counsel for both the Crown, Robin Turton, and Taylor, Paul Cross, agreed the figures.

Mr Cross told the court: “I have spoken to Mr Turton this morning and the position is that we accept the total agreed benefit figure, and the cash seized on June 10, to the total sum of £1,860, is the available amount.”

The judge made a formal order that Taylor, of Eslington Court, Gateshead, who has already served a ten-month sentence imposed last year for his part in the fraudulent activity, will serve up to six months in default of payment.

It brings the saga, dating back to 2014, to a close in the court.

Suspicion fell on Taylor’s accomplice, Frank Michael Pocock, as church treasurer, when a bill for a new central heating system at St Michael’s went unpaid, despite a fundraising drive by parishioners to cover the cost.

Instead of paying the contractors, Peacock kept the cash, with Taylor’s help.

Although he tried to fob off church clergy with a variety of stories, backed by Taylor, posing as his solicitor, police were eventually brought in to investigate.

When Pocock was interviewed by police, Taylor accompanied him, still purporting to be his solicitor.

Both were eventually charged and after drawn out court proceedings, not helped by Taylor remaining at large for nine months before his re-arrest last summer, 63-year-old Pocock, of Wilks Hill, Quebec, near Durham, was given a 22-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work, last September.

He previously admitted theft and perverting the course of justice, over the attempts to cover up the crime.

The court heard he had repaid £13,200 of the money he stole, to the church.

Taylor also admitted perverting the course of justice, as well as possession of criminal property and fraud by false representation.