A former treasurer, who used his position of trust to steal nearly £70,000 from two north Norfolk churches to fund his addiction to stamp collecting, has lived up to the promise he made to the judge to claw back the money.

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Derek Klein, 58, of The Street, Ridlington, near North Walsham, was jailed for 16 months in September 2007, for pocketing £13,000 from St Peter’s Church, in Ridlington, and £57,000 from St Andrew’s Church in Bacton.

Norwich Crown Court heard how the money was used to fund his stamp collection and gambling addiction.

In an unusual move, Judge Peter Jacobs allowed him to have back his collection of 100,000 first day covers which he was then told to sell on eBay to repay his victims.

The prosecution had wanted to arrange a bulk sale of the stamps which would have raised an estimated £25,000 but Klein – who, the court heard, was one of the country’s top stamp dealers – had said that he could make four times that amount if he broke up the collection and sold it off on eBay.

That was four years ago and yesterday he appeared at another court hearing where it was revealed that he had paid a further £7,000 this year and now he had managed to repay more than £59,000 of the money back, leaving just around £10,000 to repay.

Judge Jacobs said that the unusual move he had taken had meant that the losers got most of their money back rather than if the valuable stamp collection had been sold off in bulk at a knock-down price.

Klein told the judge that he had tried to always get the very best price for the stamps he had sold and added: “I think I have done my penance.”

Klein’s collection of stamps is believed to have contained tens of thousands of first-day covers, including stamps marking England’s 1966 soccer World Cup win, the Silver Jubilee of George V and the silver wedding of George VI.

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