Thou Shall Not Steal – Father Walsh Alleged To Have Stolen $252,000 From Church Funds

The Law in relation to Larceny

Thou Shall Not Steal – Father Walsh Alleged To Have Stolen $252,000 From Church Funds

You will probably hate me but no matter who you are (or who you were), either now or at some stage in your life, you have been a thief. It may be simply coins from your parent’s bedroom, other people’s food from the fridge (or cupboard) or shoplifting from the local supermarket/corner store. Moreover, either it may be the case that you got caught or you didn’t. If you didn’t get caught you probably outgrew and moved on or if you did get caught perhaps you learnt your lesson and no longer steal. Maybe you are even one of the minority who are still stealing to this day. Whatever the case is, we at some point in time if we were honest could categorise our misdemeanors as what is referred to as “Larceny”

WHAT IS LARCENY?

Larceny, stealing and theft all refer to the act of taking something from someone without their consent and with the intention to permanently deprive them of that something.

To establish Larceny, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you took property;
  • That belonged to someone else;
  • You did so without the owner’s consent;
  • You did so with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it.

For a full description of the law of Larceny, click here 

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EXAMPLES OF LARCENY?

The Cambridge English dictionary defines larceny as stealing and the crime of “taking something that does not belong to you”

Larceny can take different forms and different images. Stealing clothes from a shopping centre for christmas, stealing cigarettes from a tobacconist and/or even taking a telephone found on the street are examples of larceny.

A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLAR LARCENY

The world is so full of Dishonesty that even well-known Priests are being charged with (perhaps soon to be convicted of) stealing. However in this Priests case it is not a loaf of bread or a drink of wine being permanently deprived but rather hundreds of thousands of dollars in parish funds.

The accused Priest Father Walsh, 66, led the Subiaco parish in Perth for 16 years.

A  lawyer for the priest said yesterday he had been charged with six counts of stealing.

The allegations are that Father Walsh did between 2014 and 2017, steal $252,000 of church funds that he had access to.

“The Archdiocese of Perth is unable to comment on Rev Fr Joseph Walsh, given the matter is now before the courts,”.

Born in Ireland, Father Walsh is a well-known and popular figure around Perth and is sometimes quoted in local media on social issues.

For a list of the full article please click here

WHAT MUST THE PROSECUTION PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT TO BE FOUND GUILTY OF LARCENY?

The essential elements of the offence of larceny is as follows:

  • that the property must belong to someone other than the accused;
  • it must be taken and carried away; and
  • the taking must be without the consent of the owner of the property.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHARGES THAT RELATE TO LARCENY?

The offence of Larceny is found in section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900. This section states

“whosoever commits larceny … shall, except in the cases hereinafter otherwise provided for, be liable to imprisonment for five years.

The offence of larceny in NSW is broken up into the dollar amount alleged to have been stolen. These figures are categorised below in the Penalties section.

EMBEZZLEMENT OF CLERK

The offence of Embezzlement by clerk or servants is found in section 157 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:

“whosoever, being a clerk, or servant fraudulently embezzles, either the whole or any part of, any property delivered to, or received, or taken into possession by him or her, for, or in the name, or on the account of, his or her master, or employer, shall be deemed to have stolen the same, although such property was not received into the possession of such master, or employer, otherwise than by the actual possession of such clerk, or servant, and shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

Embezzlement by clerk is generally when property is alleged to have been taken by an employee from an employer.

PENALTIES

In NSW, the offence of Larceny carries a maximum penalty of five years. If the matter is dealt with in the Local Court, the penalties is restricted to a maximum period of 2 years as the Local Court only has a jurisdictional limitation of 2 years:

  • If the value of the alleged larceny exceeds $5,000 the maximum penalty is limited to two years imprisonment and/or 100 Penalty Units
  • If the value of the alleged larceny does not exceed $5,000, the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or 50 Penalty Units
  • If the value of the alleged larceny does not exceed $2,000 the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or 20 Penalty Units

For embezzlement of clerk

  • If the value of the alleged embezzlement of clerk exceeds $5,000, the maximum penalty is limited to two years imprisonment and/or 100 Penalty Units
  • If the value of the alleged embezzlement of clerk does not exceed $5,000, the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or 50 Penalty Units
  • If the value of the alleged embezzlement of clerk does not exceed $2,000 the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or 20 Penalty Units

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