Cathedral usher caught stealing cash donations

An usher in Cologne’s famous Gothic cathedral is under investigation for stealing money from the collection boxes, possibly over several years.

Cathedral usher caught stealing cash donations
Photo: DPA

“We have started an investigation of theft,” a police spokeswoman said Monday, confirming a report in the regional Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper.

According to the newspaper, the 62-year-old was caught red-handed by his colleagues on Friday evening. At first, he attempted to get rid of his key to the collection boxes, but then admitted he had taken money.

Police subsequently found €400 in notes in a bag in his locker, plus an undisclosed sum in coins.

He apparently showed considerable cunning in carrying out his crimes, evading suspicion by travelling to Bavaria to have a copy of the collection box keys made. Normally only the cathedral’s sextons have keys.

It remains unclear how much money the man is accused of stealing during his three years as an usher, but considering that the nearly 800-year-old Catholic cathedral is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions, with some six million visitors every year (or 20,000 per day), the accumulated loot could be considerable.

The ushers, dressed in red robes, are charged with keeping order and quiet in the busy cathedral.

The man is also said to have some standing in the Cologne community, sitting on the board of one of the traditional societies that organizes the city’s famous annual carnival.

Church authorities declined to comment on the case.

DAPD/The Local/bk

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.