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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 16:51 GMT
Ex-bank manager jailed for theft
Brian Russell Lewis
Lewis stole to keep his own company afloat the court was told
A retired bank manager who admitted stealing 160,000 from local churches, a Rotary club and a company has been jailed for two-and-a-half-years.

Brian Russell Lewis, 66, from Llanrwst, Conwy, admitted theft while treasurer of church organisations and when finance director of a local company.

Judge John Rogers QC told Lewis, who had never been in trouble before, that it was a "gross breach of trust".

Mold Crown Court heard that Lewis was deeply ashamed and remorseful.

He pleaded guilty to six charges of theft, spanning five years from February 2002 to June 2007.

The court heard that Lewis' house was up for sale and stock from his business was being sold to meet the bill.

This is a highly unusual and particularly sad case for all involved.
Church in Wales spokeswoman

Lewis had stolen 36,000 from Friends of St Michael's Church at Betws-y-Coed, 5,000 from St Michael's, Betws-y-coed, and 49,089 from St Mary's Church in Betws-y-Coed.

'Let down'

He also admitted stealing 7,908 from the Conwy Valley Rotary Club and 49,900 from Lets, his former employers.

The court heard that the total stolen amounted to 160,000, but the actual loss would be less because he had stolen from some in order to pay money back to others.

Judge Rogers told him that it was "a gross breach of trust by a former bank manager".

The court heard friends and colleagues felt totally let down by Lewis, who had stolen to keep his own business, Crwst Crafts, Llanrwst, afloat.

Lewis returned to his native North Wales when he took a retirement severance package from his job as a bank manager in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, at the age of 47.

Defending barrister, Duncan Bould, said his client was deeply ashamed and remorseful.

"It was "his earnest wish" that all the organisations should be repaid, he said.

A financial hearing, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, will be held in May to decide on confiscation of assets.

Following the case a Church in Wales spokeswoman said it was a "highly unusual and particularly sad case for all involved".

"Church accounts are audited annually, usually by volunteers with accounting experience, to ensure that any discrepancies are picked up, and a report is made to the Parochial Church Council at its annual meeting," she added.

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