FRAUD and embezzlement accused churchman Douglas Cranston is set to stand trial at Greenock Sheriff Court next month — charged with stealing cash from his congregation.

Cranston, 58, is facing seven counts of alleged financial dishonesty whilst minister of St Columba's Church in Kilmacolm, including claims he twice conned a grieving family.

Prosecutors say he pocketed cash from collections taken at four funerals, embezzled money from his own flock and hoodwinked couples into giving him personal cheques for weddings.

Two charges allege that Cranston told the daughters of a deceased Port Glasgow couple that he would conduct collections for dementia charities at their funerals, but retained the money for himself.

It is further claimed that at another funeral he induced mourners into donating towards the church itself and obtained £163 by fraud.

At a ceremony at Greenock Crematorium he is said to have taken a collection for the British Heart Foundation and 'the poor of Kilmacolm' and kept the cash.

It is claimed that Cranston told three couples planning their weddings with him that deposits were required and asked for cheques to made payable into his personal bank account.

Prosecutors say he embezzled a total of £500 from his congregation through the alleged wedding cons.

The alleged offences are said to have been committed between February 1 2013 and June 3 2015.

Cranston no longer resides at the parish manse on Kilmacolm's Churchill Road and now lives in a second-floor flat in Renfrew, according to court papers.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him through defence lawyer Edward Sweeney.

His trial — set to get underway on October 1 — is expected to last four days.

The court heard that a total of eight witnesses, including representatives of the British Heart Foundation and Dementia UK, are cited to give evidence on the first day.

A further pre-trial calling of the case is due to take place on September 25.