A principal and her husband who
admitted siphoning more than $30,000 from a decile one school
in South Auckland have been sentenced to home detention and
community work and ordered to pay reparations to the
Colleen Margaret Gray, 66, pleaded guilty in March to nine
charges of dishonestly using a document and two of using a
Her husband Bruce Kenneth Gray, 65, pleaded guilty to four
charges of dishonestly using a document.
The charges related to money which, instead of going towards
pupils' education at Mayfield Primary School in Otara, the
couple splashed out on themselves, using it to jet to
Australia and to London.
Mrs Gray, who was a member of the New Zealand Principals'
Federation executive, also used the school credit card for
food at Mecca at Mission Bay and Francoli Bar and Restaurant
The money came out of the school's annual operational grant
from the Ministry of Education. The offending occurred from
2005 to early 2007.
Mrs Gray used the school funds to pay for trips to Australia
and other purchases including food, flowers and Koru Club
Fake invoices were filed so payments were made to companies
owned by Mr Gray.
Some appeared to have been used for the pair's trip to London
for "teacher recruitment purposes".
Today in the Auckland District Court Judge Rob Ronayne said
there was a gross breach of trust in Mrs Gray's offending and
the couple have never shown any acceptance of their
wrongdoing, despite pleading guilty midway through their
Judge Ronayne read a victim impact statement from the Board
of Trustees at Mayfield Primary School that said principals
were held in high regard in South Auckland communities.
"The honour and trust we gave to Colleen Gray has been thrown
back in our faces," the statement said.
Judge Ronayne said the pre-sentence report showed Mrs Gray
was self-absorbed and that she appeared to have convinced
herself she "muddled herself" in to the offending.
"This was offending motivated by greed not need," he said.
Prosecutor Jessica Blythe said the school had trouble
attracting staff now and couldn't predict how the lost funds
could have been used to better their pupils' futures.
Defence lawyer John Tannahill said the couple could not
maintain an online business while on home detention, a claim
Judge Ronayne disputed.
Mrs Gray was sentenced to a year of home detention and 150
hours community service.
Mr Gray was sentenced to 10 months home detention.
The couple also paid the school $27,001.33 in reparations,
the total lost in offending after GST had been paid back.
Following their guilty pleas in March, the school's board of
trustees chairman at the time of the offending, Phillip Logo,
told APNZ the board had an inkling something was wrong, but
Mrs Gray controlled what financial information it was shown.
She also created a climate of fear among teachers, making
them afraid of speaking out, Mr Logo said.
He gave evidence at the trial before they pleaded guilty and
said he was more than happy to take time off work to help
secure a conviction.
"Thirty thousand dollars is a lot of money at a school that
doesn't have many funds. It meant resources that could have
gone to kids and for teachers didn't go where it was supposed
- By Brendan Manning,
Jimmy Ellingham and Sophie Ryan of APNZ