A CROOKED accountant who stole more than £500,000 from the Stourbridge church and religious charity where he was treasurer has been ordered to pay back just £1.

Stephen Metheun pocketed a total of £518,905 from his fiddles but he now has no assets whatsoever, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

The current financial affairs of the 57-year-old, who was living in a caravan on a site near Worcester before being jailed for five years for his crimes, have been fully investigated.

But Judge Granville Styler was told Metheun now had nothing at all of value to his disgraced name.

He gave Metheun 28 days to come up with nominal £1 confiscation order and ruled he should have to serve one further day behind bars in default.

Metheun had been in charge of finances at the Amblecote Christian Centre and for the Christian International Relief Mission - both in Stourbridge.

But he took money from both organisations including £119,000 raised by the relief mission to help homeless and hungry orphans in the Phillipines.

The prosecution had described Metheun as a "clever, professional, qualified man who used guile to systematically defraud the most deserving and vulnerable institutions - the church and a charity."

He had abused the trust placed in him to line his own pockets having manoevred himself into a position where was in sole control of large sums of money.

Metheun admitted six charges of falsifying accounts at the Brettell Lane church and six charges relating to the falsification of accounts at the relief mission - all to conceal payments made into his own personal and business accounts.

He further pleaded guilty to four charges of cheating the Revenue by filing gift aid repayment claims which overstated the total charitable donations that had been made.

Judge John Maxwell, jailing him in October, said his crimes were despicable and they had sorely tested the faith of members of the congregation who had been horrified to find he had stolen the money.

Metheun, previously of Smalman Close, Wordsley, who had used the cash to prop up his ailing accountancy business, had made determined steps to try and cover up his criminality and he had falsified accounts to put people off the scent.

Amblecote Christian Centre pastor Adrian Lowe said after the hearing: “Even though we are unlikely to see the recovery of the stolen funds we are greatly encouraged by the continuous generous giving of our members who have remained loyal during this very difficult period.

“We will continue to provide for as many of the causes as possible, and of course, in supporting Steve’s wife and extended family, who knew nothing of his crimes.”