Jail delay for freemason who swindled £90,000 out of care home

David Griffiths, 77, stole £90,000 to try to pay off his own ‘out-of-control’ credit card debts but court told he tried to pay it back

A freemason who stole more than £90,000 from a care home will be sent to jail, a judge has warned – but not just yet.

Pensioner David Colin Griffiths, of Corntown, near Bridgend, pocketed vast amounts of cash meant to help residents of the Albert Edwards Prince of Wales Court home in Porthcawl – a care facility exclusively for elderly freemasons and their families.

Working as treasurer to the home’s Association of Friends support group, the white-haired 77-year-old took £90,028 from its accounts over six years to pay off his own “out-of-control” credit card debts, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

But despite admitting the theft, Griffiths was not jailed. In an unusual step judge, Recorder John Jenkins QC, deferred his sentencing for six months to allow Griffiths time to repay the charity in full, as well as have further tests on his recently diagnosed prostate cancer.

The defendant was told he is likely to face years behind bars and is now set to be sentenced in October.

Griffiths had been treasurer for the Association of Friends of the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court for 15 years, the court heard. The group raise cash to fund trips, visits and equipment for the care home’s elderly Freemason residents.

But in 2006 he started having personal money problems.

Prosecutor David Pugh said: “He lost control of his credit card bills and was taking money out of the accounts on a monthly basis to service these debts.”

Suspicion of Griffiths’ crime first arose when Association of Friends’ chairman Alan Gardener found irregular payments on charity balance sheets in October 2011. The home’s manager told Mr Gardener there had also been problems getting invoices paid.

After end-of-year accounts were not produced on time in July 2012, Mr Gardener made a surprise call to Griffiths’ Corntown home on August 27 and was given an accounts book with pages ripped out, Mr Pugh said.

Griffiths confessed to stealing the money to pay interest payments on his £70,000 credit card debts.

It also emerged treasurer Griffiths had not had the Association of Friends’ accounts audited for six years.

In October 2012 Griffiths repaid £60,000 to the group after freeing equity on his house and it was agreed no action would be taken against him.

But further investigations unveiled Griffiths had in fact stolen more than £90,000 in total – £78,748 of which had gone on credit card repayments and £11,280 paid in cash and cheques to him directly.

Defending, Matthew Roberts, said Griffiths was “under no illusion” that he will receive a custodial sentence.

But he asked judge Mr Jenkins to defer passing sentence for six months so Griffiths could sell his house to pay back the remaining £30,000 he stole and have further scans to decipher the seriousness of “indications” of prostate cancer.

Mr Jenkins said: “I have never deferred sentence previously in all my years of sitting, but I am prepared to defer sentence for six months in your case.”

Griffiths, who pleaded guilty to one charge of theft at a previous hearing, will now be sentenced on October 4.