Former Christchurch priest guilty of fraud

John William Fitzmaurice pleaded guilty to five charges of dishonestly using documents and one of obtaining money by deception when he appeared in the Christchurch District Court on Monday.

He committed the fraud while he was the parish priest at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and at Addington’s Sacred Heart Parish.

The charges relate to his using 242 cheques drawn on the Catholic Cathedral Parish and Addington Parish accounts, which were either cashed or paid into his account.

He also admitted dishonestly making 358 automatic teller withdrawals totalling $54,430.

Fitzmaurice was suspended by Bishop Barry Jones in September 2011.

What he did with all the money remains unclear, but on Monday the Bishop of Christchurch Barry Jones told The Press : “I understand there was gambling involved.”

Judge Jane Farish remanded Fitzmaurice on bail for sentencing on February 27.

She called for a pre-sentence report and a report on his suitability for home detention, and his ability to pay reparations to the church.


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