Funeral director who stole thousands from charity collections at services avoids jail

A funeral director who “reopened wounds” after stealing £4,600 donated to charities by mourners has avoided jail.

Adrian Satterly, 46, of Cleobury Funeral Directors, admitted 15 counts of theft at an earlier court hearing, having kept charity collection tin money from 11 funerals of 11 people between March 2016 and May 2019.

The money he confessed to taking should have been paid to charities including Severn Hospice and Midlands Air Ambulance, Four Oaks Care Home in Ludlow; Cleobury Medical Centre, District Nurses at Ludlow Hospital and Hereford Hospital. Cleobury Mortimer Scouting Group, St John’s Church, in Wolverley; Parkinson’s UK, Alzheimer’s Society, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Dementia UK, and Water Aid.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that when Satterly was investigated by police in December 2019, he had was found to have debts of nearly £17,000.

Judge Anthony Lowe said that Satterly’s actions will have “reopened wounds” of families and friends of loved ones after an “acutely emotional” time, and that they would see his crimes as “wicked”.

But the basis of plea accepted by the prosecution was that Satterly kept the money out of negligence, rather than being a dishonest act from the outset in which he intended to steal the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Several loved ones of people whose funeral donations were stolen were attended yesterday’s hearing in person and via a video link to hear the conclusion of the case.

Judge Lowe sentenced Satterly, of Talbot Square, Cleobury Mortimer, to a 15-month prison term, suspended for two years. He also ordered him to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and to pay £800 in prosecution costs.

He told Satterly that from the families’ point of view, what he did “could only be described as wicked”. But he had to sentence him on the agreed basis of plea, and accepted that the intention to keep the money came at a later date.

“The only conclusion I can come to is that you were holding onto those monies to stave off the debts you had to enable the business to continue to operate,” he said.

Stephen Scully, defending, said Satterly had paid the money back, and that his wife’s pub had suffered economically after her husband’s thefts had become public knowledge.

“He’s lost his business and had to rebuild his life,” Mr Scully said.

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