Jury hears from final witness is theft trial of former St. Anne pastor

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Windsor Star

Published on: December 4, 2015 | Last Updated: December 4, 2015 8:33 PM EST

Robert Couture walks towards Superior Court in Windsor on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.
Robert Couture walks towards Superior Court in Windsor on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

The jury in the theft trial of former Ste. Anne pastor Robert Couture is getting a break from the courtroom.

The final witness in the trial testified Friday.

The trial resumes Wednesday with closing arguments from the prosecution and the defence.

Couture, 53, is charged with theft over $5,000. He is accused of stealing between $170,000 and $234,000 from the Tecumseh parish where he was pastor from 2002 to 2010.

The final witness in the trial was a former bookkeeper who worked at the parish one day a week.

Daniela Pastorius worked at St. Anne on Thursday afternoons from 2002 to 2006.

Couture testified earlier in the trial that he handled some of the church finances himself because there was too much for Pastorius to manage.

When that suggestion was put to Pastorius on the witness stand Friday, the bookkeeper disagreed.

“Not at all,” she said when asked by assistant Crown attorney Tom Meehan if she ever felt she was “too busy or overwhelmed.”

In fact, Pastorius testified, she could get her job done at St. Anne in only two hours.

Couture also testified he would pay church expenses out of his own pocket, then get reimbursed.

Defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme showed Pastorius Couture’s personal credit card statements from the time he was at the church.

Certain items were ticked off, Ducharme suggested, because they were church expenses.

Pastorius testified she does not recall ever seeing the statements or writing cheques to Couture from the church’s operating account to reimburse him for expenses.

The church already had a credit card, she testified.

The jury will hear closing arguments and the judge’s final instructions before beginning its deliberations.

ssacheli@windsorstar.com

Twitter.com/@winstarsacheli

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