Ebenezer Oduntan, former pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David Church Naas was convicted of nine company law offences, 73 counts of theft and five counts of deception at a trial in March.

During the trial, Oduntan pleaded guilty to some of the charges but the jury returned guilty verdicts to the outstanding 54 against him.

The court heard Oduntan had been a pastor at the City of David Church for over ten years and that he had sole access and control of the finances from 2012 to 2020.

The church is a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God with headquarters in Nigera, and is funded by member donations and the Church in Nigera.

The court also heard that during the trial Oduntan accepted some level of responsibility for €15,000 -€25,000 and that he spent it for himself and family.

During the hearing today, it was relayed that the trial heard he stole church funds, including cheques made payable to cash and cheques of up to €20,000 for him personally.

It heard the City of David Church had been awarded charity status and Oduntan had made the application for charity status.

It also heard Oduntan admitted five counts of deception during the course of the trial in relation to a fraud involving the inflation of donations made to the church, which then resulted in Revenue Commissioners reimbursing more than it should under the Charitable Donation Scheme.

The prosecution told the court that the ultimate monies stolen amounted to more than €52,000, stolen by way of a Life Credit Union account and more than €75,000 in cheques withdrawn in cash from various accounts, amounting to around €126,000 and that no monies have been returned.

The prosecution also said in relation to the company law offences that Oduntan said he had acted single handedly and that he admitted no member of the church or current board colluded with him and that he wished to apologise for the abuse of trust.

Senior Counsel Damien Colgan appealed to Judge Martina Baxter for leniency in her sentencing.

He said Oduntan, aged 58, is married with four children, he is a naturalised Irish citizen and had been working as a taxi operator, and has no previous convictions.

Mr Colgan said Oduntan made admission to some of the charges and expressed a certain amount of remorse, but does not accept the jury's verdict.

Mr Colgan said that Mr Oduntan has been ostracised by his community and has no friends.

He said that before this happened he seemed to have true faith, and that this is something that he will have to live with.

Oduntan is due to appear at Naas Circuit Court for sentencing tomorrow, 18th. April.