The former head of an animal charity has appeared in court charged with a series of fraud offences.
Stephen Philpott, the ex-chief executive of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA), stood in the dock of Newry Magistrates’ Court in Co Down facing five criminal charges.
The 53-year-old is accused of fraud by abuse of his position, specifically in regard to the receipt of rental income with the intention of making gain for himself or another or causing loss or risk of loss to the USPCA.
A further abuse of position charge relates to the alleged creation of a false job in the USPCA for a woman – again with the intent of making gain for himself or another or causing loss or risk of loss to the USPCA.
He is also accused of conspiring with the woman to commit fraud through false representation in relation to the creation of false employment.
Philpott, from Ashgrove Road, Newry, is also charged with concealing criminal property, namely cash, and a count of possessing criminal property.
All of the offences were allegedly committed between January 2006 and November 2015.
Philpott, dressed in a dark navy suit, blue shirt and red tie, spoke at the outset of the brief hearing to confirm his name, date of birth and that he understood the charges facing him.
A detective constable with the PSNI told the court he could connect the accused to the charges.
The investigation was triggered after the USPCA reported what it described as “suspected irregularities” to the PSNI.
Philpott was arrested and questioned by detectives from the PSNI’s Economic Crime Unit last month and subsequently released on bail.
In court on Wednesday, District Judge Eamonn King released Philpott on his own continuing bail of £250.
He imposed two bail conditions – that he is not allowed to make contact with any past or present employees of the USPCA, directly, indirectly or through a third party, and that he is to reside at his home in Newry until the next court appearance.
The case is due to be heard again on November 16.
A 52-year-old woman arrested with Philpott in September has been reported to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).