Glazier sentenced for church fraud & theft

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A glazier whose good-standing in the community helped him secure work to replace windows at a Coleraine church has appeared in court where he was sentenced for theft and fraud.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Thursday, Nathanial Hugh Boyd (53), of Rusky Park in Aghadowey near Coleraine, was given a two year conditional charge after he had previously pleaded guilty to three charges - two of fraud by false representation and one of theft.

He had failed to fit windows worth thousands of pounds at the Church of Christ in Coleraine’s Artillery Road.

A defence barrister said Boyd was not a cowboy builder but had fallen into financial difficulties.

A reference was handed into the court on behalf of Boyd from Rev.Rev John Anderson, the rector of Billy & Derrykeighan Church of Ireland parish near Bushmills,which spoke of the defendant in “very positive terms”.

Defence barrister Alan Stewart said Boyd had a good standing in local churches generally and that led to him getting the job at the Church of Christ.

The charges stated that on January 13, 2014, Boyd dishonestly made a false representation that he would fit and supply windows at the Church of Christ, upon receipt of a deposit of £1,700 but the work was never carried out.

He also dishonestly made a false representation later in 2014 that he would obtain materials to fit and supply church windows upon payment of £2,000 but, the charge stated, the materials were never obtained and the work never carried out.

Boyd also pleaded guilty to a third charge that between January 12, 2014 and October 1, 2015, he had stolen £3,700 in cash from the Church of Christ.

Prosecutor George Chesney said Boyd was a builder/glazier and the Church of Christ asked him to carry out work to replace windows and despite paying a £1,700 deposit the work did not commence.

Boyd asked the church for more money to buy materials but the work still not start and despite the defendant promising to pay the money on many occasions it was not forthcoming and after a year a complaint was made to police.

Alan Stewart said all the money has since been repaid and said when the case is first viewed you have to ask if Boyd was involved in such activity on a regular basis and if he was a “fraudster” but he said he was not and the case had arisen because he had “fallen on hard times”.

The court heard Boyd had a police caution in relation to another £300 job but that was paid and he was not prosecuted.

Mr Stewart said his client took the initial £1,700 deposit but the job got delayed and he used the money to buy materials for other jobs and then fell into “financial difficulties”.

He said Boyd is “deeply ashamed and embarrassed” and was too proud to turn to friends to get a loan to repay the money.

Mr Stewart said Boyd has apologised for the upset caused to the church clergy and congregation.

The barrister said Boyd’s business has now folded and he is unemployed but looking for work through a recruitment agency.

District Judge Liam McNally said it was unfortunate that Boyd came to court at the age of 53 and was guilty of a serious charge.

He said he noted that while he may have got into financial difficulties and was “trying to rob Peter to pay Paul” the defendant had accepted he had acted dishonestly.

The judge took into account his guilty plea and clear record and said Rev. Anderson had spoken highly of the work he did in the Billy & Derrykeighan parish in his spare time.

Mr McNally noted the money has been repaid and he agreed to the suggestion in a Probation report to give Boyd a two year conditional discharge.

Outside the court Boyd, who was wearing a suit, shirt and tie, did not wish to make any comment to the press.