A former treasurer who stole nearly £70,000 from two North Norfolk churches has paid the final chunk of his debt after selling his cherished stamp collection.

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But a source close to the two places of worship said the “hurt, upset and division” caused by Derek Klein had not yet healed.

On the day that Judge Peter Jacobs retired from Norwich Crown Court, 58-year-old Klein made a final payment of £6,990 - then wished the judge a happy retirement.

The ex-treasurer, formerly of Ridlington, near North Walsham, was in a position of trust when he siphoned £13,000 from the account of St Peter’s Ridlington and £57,000 from St Andrew’s Bacton.

He was jailed for 16 months in September 2007 but in an unusual move Judge Jacobs allowed him to keep his collection of 100 first day covers so that he could sell them on eBay.

The prosecution estimated that if they sold off the collection it would raise £25,000, leaving the churches out of pocket, but Judge Jacobs’ move meant that - five-and-a-half years on - the churches have now got all the funds back.

A church source, who did not wish to be identified, said the two parochial church council’s would be “relieved that it’s over”, and the payment of the final instalment had “finally drawn a line under it”.

But the source added: “It caused so much hurt, upset and division. It was a very bad time. It’s a very sensitive place to take money from. At the time, people felt cheated and betrayed.”

Klein, who is one of the top stamp dealers in the UK, was able to get much more by selling the stamps over a period of time. He had stolen from the churches to fund his addiction to stamp collecting.

The unusual decision to allow Klein to sell the collection came in for some criticism at the time but Judge Jacobs praised Klein for managing to pay all the cash back and said: “We have been totally vindicated.”

Last year, 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.”

His 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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