News State Western Australia News Catholic priest who denied stealing almost $500,000 from church agrees to pay money back

Catholic priest who denied stealing almost $500,000 from church agrees to pay money back

Father Joseph Walsh (left) faced trial in Perth last year but the charges were eventually dropped. Photo: ABC News/Sarah Collard
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A Catholic priest previously accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish has settled civil proceedings with the church, acknowledging he used parish money partly for personal use and agreeing to pay it back.

Father Joseph Walsh had been facing criminal charges, accused of stealing the funds from St Joseph’s parish in Subiaco by allegedly using church credit cards and cheques to pay for personal expenses between 2014 and 2017.

He always maintained his innocence and last year charges were dropped after prosecutors decided there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Catholic Archbishop of Perth Timothy Costelloe then started civil proceedings in the Supreme Court against Father Walsh.

Father Walsh pleaded not guilty to the charges against him before they were dropped. Photo: Twitter/@frjoewalsh

But in a joint statement, the two men said the matter had been resolved “on terms satisfactory to both parties”.

They said Father Walsh acknowledged he had partly used parish funds for the wrong reasons, and would pay the money back.

“Father Walsh acknowledges that during his tenure as parish priest he used funds and assets belonging to the parish of Subiaco, in part for his personal use, in circumstances that he now understands are outside the Archdiocese’s parish guidelines and/or Canon Law,” the statement said.

“In settlement of the civil proceedings, Father Walsh has agreed to reimburse funds to the Parish of Subiaco.”

Father Walsh left St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Subiaco in 2016 after leading it for 16 years. Photo: ABC News/Briana Shepherd

The amount of money Father Walsh will repay was not disclosed.

Canon law is a system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the church’s authorities.

Father Walsh led the St Joseph’s parish for 16 years.

He left the parish in 2016 after being appointed to lead the All Saints Chapel at Allendale Square in the Perth CBD, but was removed from his position when police began investigating him.

ABC