A FORMER employee of Newport Mind is on trial, charged with stealing over £2,350 from the charity.

Richard Morgan worked as a book keeper for the organisation, which is based on Commercial Street in the city and helps people with mental illnesses, finding them accomodation.

Morgan, 50, of Dickens Drive, Gaer, is on trial at Newport Crown Court, where he denies theft.

Prosecutor Jeremy Jenkins said the offence is alleged to have taken place some time between April 20 and September 15 last year.

Morgan had worked for Newport Mind for four years at the time and one of his roles was banking rent from people the charity placed in Charter Housing accomodation.

The alleged deception came to light last August when some tenants questioned why their cheques had not been cashed as usual. Morgan maintained they had but went on sick leave soon after.

Morgan was the only person with access to the charity's safe, but after staff members failed to contact him through repeated calls to his mobile phone, they paid a locksmith to break into the safe.

After auditing what was there, Mr Jenkins said they found that no money had been banked since June 8. All the cheques had been left in the safe while £2,356.16, mainy in £20 notes was missing.

Morgan was arrested on October 7 and Mr Jenkins read out extracts of his interview with police.

He told PC Rachel Watkins that he had being suffering from depression and mental health issues that affected his memory.

Morgan said the condition meant he was unable to do his job properly and while he said he "genuinely doesn't know" where the money went, he admitted all the evidence suggested he took it.

He told police:"I don't have any spare money. It has to be there."