The Church has launched legal action against a priest accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish as it seeks to recoup the missing money. Source: The Australian.
By Paul Garvey, The Australian
Fr Joe Walsh, who led the parish of Subiaco in Perth’s western suburbs, was charged by police last year with stealing and is due to appear in court tomorrow to determine a date for his criminal trial.
Documents filed in the West Australian Supreme Court show the Perth Archdiocese was seeking details of amounts held by Fr Walsh in four NAB accounts and a term deposit, as well as money tied up in Perth-based property investment group Primewest.
The Church also sought a declaration that property purchased by Fr Walsh with the proceeds of his Primewest investment would be placed in trust for the Church.
Police charged the 67-year-old last year with six counts of stealing, initially alleging he took $252,000 from the Church over three years until 2017. A further 30 charges of stealing were subsequently laid, taking the total amount of alleged missing Church funds to almost $500,000.
He is alleged to have unlawfully used parish credit cards and cheques on a host of personal expenses.
In the writ of summons, lawyers representing the Church said Fr Walsh had breached both his fiduciary duty and the trust of the Church.
The Church’s lawyers are seeking “equitable compensation” and an order for the payment of all sums found to be due to it.
Fr Walsh spent 16 years at the helm of St Joseph’s Church in Subiaco. He moved from St Joseph’s to the All Saints Chapel in Perth’s CBD in 2016.
He was removed from that role in 2018, shortly after the Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB called in police and handed over the findings of an internal investigation into the financial records of St Joseph’s parish.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges in November 2019, just days before the Church filed its civil action against him.
Catholic priest sued over church’s missing $500,000 (The Australian)