A church treasurer who stole around $150,000 in order to fuel her online gambling addiction has been jailed after a Judge rejected her attempts to escape justice by claiming she’s ill.
When Nicola Holding became the trusted treasurer of the St Boniface Church in Plymouth, she was described by other congregants as a “pillar of the community,” not only for her work with the church, but also for helping with the pre-school connected to it.
Nonetheless, Holding was reportedly funneling off money from the church and spending the ill-gotten gains on her online gambling addiction, as Plymouth Crown Court heard today.
For her part, 50-year-old Holding pleaded guilty to fraud two years ago but failed to turn up in court, claiming she was too sick to do so.
When she finally arrived at court, Holding was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for her crimes.
Prosecutor Kelly Scrivener told the court that Holding stole the money between 2008 and 2011 and used shifty techniques to cover up the money she was stealing.
Judge Paul Darlow didn’t mince his words in addressing the accused woman, telling her in front of a packed courtroom, “You plundered their accounts for your own benefit including gambling on internet sites.”
Holding’s defense attorney, Jo Martin, defended his client, telling the court, “Since the allegations her fall from grace has been huge and her life has even more spiraled out of control. Undoubtedly she has a number of medical issues.”
The head of the church, Reverend Alison Shaw, said that prison for Holding would be a difficult trauma, adding, “It was a huge sense of betrayal which has had a massive impact on the church and the church community. She was central to everything in the church. Young people put her on a pedestal and she preached to the adults. She was a very moral person who told them how to behave. Nicola was trusted implicitly.”