The former head of finance and property for the Diocese of London appeared before the Southwark Crown Court on Friday October 14 to plead guilty to fraud by abuse of position between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2019.

Martin Sargeant (52) defrauded the Two Cities Churches Trust, a charity created in 1891 to support the restoration of City of London churches, of over £5.2 million ($6.3 million). He denied a further count of money laundering, which was left to lie on file.

The prosecuting attorney, Malachy Packenham, told the court Sergeant would make fraudulent grant requests for impoverished churches and then funnel the funds into his own account. Judge Adam Hiddleston released Sargeant, who is currently living in a residential treatment facility for gambling addicts in Dudley, on conditional bail ahead of sentencing on November 21 but he warned: “You must be prepared on that occasion for a sentence that will result inevitably in immediate custody”, the Press Association reported.

Sargeant’s barrister Mark Ruffell said his client has a “long-standing gambling addiction” and through his treatment has gone through a “transformation from a broken man” to a “strengthened man, still broken but able to communicate what he has done”.

Sargeant was granted bail on conditions he does not leave the UK, resides at his address, and does not contact any employee of the Diocese of London save through the officer in the case.

The case continues.