Courts really do not like people in a professional position who abuse the trust placed in them abusing that faith for their own ends.
So Simon Reynolds, currently a suspended vicar, can expect the book to be thrown at him after being convicted on 23rd July 2015 of thefts from his parish totalling £24,000
Rev Reynolds (as he is at the moment, but probably for not that much longer) was based in All Saints Church in Darton. There were four counts of theft.
On three occasions he took money from his parishioners for weddings or funerals. This was supposed to be passed on to the ‘Wakefield Diocesan Board of Finance’, but Rev Reynolds only passed on a tiny fraction of it, trousering the rest.
In a fourth count, Rev Reynolds kept money for monuments in the churchyard that should have been passed on.
It’s not clear why the amounts add up to £24,000 – it seems a lot, so it may be that these were ‘specimen’ counts, or it may be that the monuments account for this.
Rev Reynolds denied the offences and had a trial, so there will be no credit for a plea of guilty.
The relevant guidelines are the Theft Guidelines (see page 11). Here, it is likely that it will be seen as a ‘high’ degree of trust. The amounts involved put this in the top category with a starting point of 3 years and a range or 2-6 years.
The value is towards the very bottom of that bracket and we would expect a sentence here of about 2 years. It will be a sentence of immediate imprisonment however, there’s very little chance that this would be suspended.
Failing to attend Court
It seems that Rev Reynolds was not in Court for the verdict, and in fact did not turn up to Court today. A warrant has been issued.
It is a really, really bad idea to not turn up to Court. He’s not an international criminal, and is not going to go on the run, so it won’t take him long to be found.
Unless he has got a good reason for not turning up today, he will face a further charged under the Bail Act. This will probably mean another month being added to his sentence.