Thieving vicar who fled Sheffield Crown Court trial arrested by police

Church of England vicar Simon Reynolds, 50, leaves Sheffield Crown Court, where he is accused of keeping fees handed over to him by bereaved families and engaged couples when he was priest-in-charge of All Saints Church in Darton, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.  Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire
Church of England vicar Simon Reynolds, 50, leaves Sheffield Crown Court, where he is accused of keeping fees handed over to him by bereaved families and engaged couples when he was priest-in-charge of All Saints Church in Darton, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Photo credit: Dave Higgens/PA Wire
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A thieving vicar who stole £24,000 of church funds including funeral money and went on the run during his trial has been found and arrested.

Simon Reynolds, aged 50, was on trial at Sheffield Crown Court but absconded just before the jury found him guilty of theft in his absence.

Reynolds took money meant for weddings and funerals while he worked at All Saints Church in Darton, near Barnsley.

Today South Yorkshire Police announced they have arrested the man after a search operation was launched.

A spokesman said: “The man has since made contact with officers and handed himself in this morning at a Sheffield police station where he was immediately arrested.

“He will remain in police custody until he is due back in court this afternoon.”

Reynolds, of Upper Church Lane, Surrey, had denied four counts of theft between 2007 and 2013 resulting in the Crown Court trial.

Reynolds took money given to him by engaged couples and bereaved families that was meant for Darton All Saints Parochial Parish Council and Wakefield Diocesan Board of Finance.

Opening the case for the prosecution last week, Tom Storey told the jury it was Reynolds’s responsibility to hand over the fees paid for weddings and funerals to the diocese.

Mr Storey said an investigation by the church, then the police, showed he had only passed on a fraction of what he should.

The prosecutor said the offences, allegedly committed between 2007 and 2013, were a “significant breach of trust”.

Reynolds was accused of four counts of theft. The first three related to fees he should have sent to the Wakefield Diocesan Board of Finance, for marriages, funeral and churchyard monuments respectively. The fourth related to fees for monuments that should have gone to the parochial church council.

The defendant denied all the charges.