News Post Leader - UK
Freemason jailed for stealing £48,000 from lodges
03 August 2007
By ANTHONY McLEAN
Location: Blyth / Wansbeck
A FREEMASON who stole nearly £50,000 from two Northumberland Masonic lodges has been jailed.
David Glass worked voluntarily as a treasurer for the Masonic movement as he plundered the cash to pay off his spiralling debts.
The former financial advisor stole just over £48,000 from the Bedlington-based Northumberland Provincial Grand Lodge and the Farne Lodge of Mark Master Masons between November 2004 and November 2005.
But Glass, of Spelvit Lane, Morpeth, was caught when fellow Masons became suspicious of the missing cash and began to investigate, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Glass, 55, was arrested and pleaded guilty to 20 charges involving theft, false accounting and using a false instrument on the day his trial was due to start at Newcastle Crown Court.
Judge Guy Whitburn jailed Glass for 21 months and said he had committed a gross breach of trust.
"How it is that a man of good character commits theft on this scale is quite difficult to understand," Judge Whitburn said.
The court heard that Glass was on a £70,000-a-year salary working as a financial advisor for Barclays.
But in 2001 the company "restructured" and Glass left to work as an independent advisor in Morpeth.
Caroline Goodwin, defending, said his income dropped to around £12,000 a year.
"He found the change in lifestyle quite difficult to manage," she said.
"When the debts began to mount up he went to the funds from the lodges, which were available to him."
Ms Goodwin said that Glass took out individual loans from Barclays, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer to keep on top of his spiralling debt.
But in 2004 the money ran out and Glass, who had been a Mason for 15 years, began to steal from the two Masonic lodges.
He stole a total of £15,150 from the Provincial Grand Lodge, where he worked voluntarily as a treasurer.
He also plundered £33,000 from the Seahouses-based Farne Lodge, where he worked as a secretary but was left in charge of financial affairs.
Glass admitted 17 counts of theft, two counts of using a false instrument and one charge of false accounting when he appeared in court.
Ms Goodwin added that Glass had to sell his family home in Crumstone, Seahouses, to pay off some of the debt.
He is now living in a rented home in Morpeth but still owes around £30,000 said Ms Goodwin.
Ian Graham, prosecuting, said the money stolen from the lodges may have been used for charitable purposes in the local areas.
Jailing Glass, Judge Whitburn, who was dealing with the court case because he has no affiliation with the Freemasonry movement, said: "You held these jobs voluntarily because of the skills gained in your financial employment until your brethren, as they saw you, became suspicious of what had happened to their funds.
"In order to maintain the lifestyle you had been used to you took up an extremely large amount of debt.
"This is theft on a fairly massive scale over a fairly short time period."