Janine Mears appears in the Dunedin District Court
yesterday. Photo by Staff photographer.
A Dunedin receptionist will spend at least two years in
prison after stealing $380,000 from her employer, Gilmour
Motors, and forging the signatures of two senior Dunedin
lawyers while on remand.
The fraud nearly destroyed the car dealership, the Dunedin
District Court heard at her sentencing yesterday.
Judge Gary MacAskill said he was taking the unusual step of
imposing a minimum non-parole period for Janine Mears (52)
because a shorter period in prison - it was likely the Parole
Board would release her after serving a third of her sentence
because she was not a violent offender - would not deter her,
denounce her behaviour or hold her to account for the impact
of her offending on her victims.
Mears was sentenced to a total of four years and three months
in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of two years.
She was sentenced to four years on four counts of theft by a
person in a special relationship, committed over five and
a-half years, while employed as the credit controller at
Gilmour Motors between 2006 and 2012.
She used various methods to steal the money, but would mostly
take cheques made out to Gilmour Motors, change the payee
details, then bank them in her or family members' names. She
also cashed cheques at other banks.
Three months' prison was added for a guilty plea entered
yesterday after Mears admitted to, on September 13 this year,
while on remand and awaiting sentence, forging the names of
defence lawyer Campbell Savage and Crown prosecutor Robin
Bates on a letter to her bank, asking it to unfreeze one of
The judge described that incident as ''audacious''.
He said his sentence took into account her lack of remorse or
an explanation for offending that had had a devastating
effect on people who had trusted her completely and held her
The offending had had a clear impact on the Gilmour family
and caused the sale of assets and borrowing while the family
was trying to keep the business afloat, he said.
''You have effectively destroyed the work of a lifetime of
What was worse, Mears had stood by and watched as her
offending caused the company to go downhill and the family
desperately tried to work out why.
''In short, [the offending] was calculated and callous ...
You have a thoroughly dishonest character.''
Starting at four years six months' prison, Judge MacAskill
reduced Mears' sentence by six months because she had avoided
the expense of a trial by pleading guilty.
She got no other credit despite a lack of previous offending
because her offending went on so long, was extensive, abused
a position of trust and her guilty plea was as late as
possible, he said.
Outside the court, company director Alistair Gilmour said the
most upsetting thing was the betrayal of trust.
It also hurt that Mears was, on some levels, still denying
what she had done was wrong.
He pointed out that she had continued to shake her head,
apparently in denial despite having pleaded guilty, during
the sentencing exercise.
''The betrayal was bad, but if she'd admitted it and
apologised and said she'd work until it was all paid back,
well ... But there was none of that.''
He said he had trusted her completely and even said at one
stage as his family spent hours tracking the money, that
''No, it couldn't be Janine''.
It was unbelievable she had sat and watched the family go
through hell, as they sold investment properties, and cars at
no margin, just to keep the business going, he said.
''She watched me sell my wristwatch on TradeMe to pay the
He said he wanted to thank his clients who had been
understanding as they had to go through police interviews and