A British judge has jailed a runaway priest for two years and eight months for pocketing church funds.

Simon Reynolds had fled to Germany last week while he was in the process of being convicted but returned to England and turned himself in.

Judge Julian Goose said in Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday that he wasn't convinced by defense claims that the missing 24,000 pounds ($37,500) was due to poor administration by the 50-year-old priest.

He said Reynolds had abused the trust placed in him by the church community by keeping funds used to pay for weddings, funerals and graveyard markers.

Reynolds' lawyer said the priest was so stressed when he left court during jury deliberations that he mistakenly booked a flight to Duesseldorf, Germany, instead of Dublin, Ireland.