Bar manager, now sacked, avoids conviction for theft

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
A Dunedin bar manager caught with his hand in the till has escaped conviction to help his future job prospects.

Elroy Kurt Paiaaua (25) pleaded guilty to stealing $1297 from an Octagon bar and counsel Nathan Laws told the Dunedin District Court yesterday he had been sacked as a result.

Now, the defendant was struggling to find other work and would be hugely hampered by a conviction, Mr Laws said.

Crown prosecutor Chris Bernhardt argued that was simply a natural consequence of such dishonesty.

The court heard Paiaaua had repaid the stolen cash, had engaged in counselling for his alcohol and gambling addictions and had completed more than 100 hours of voluntary work with a religious organisation.

"A conviction for theft would likely mean the end of any opportunity he might have to re-engage in [the hospitality] industry and indeed any industry where the public and money is involved," Judge Kevin Phillips said.

"For a young man, to me that is a consequence of considerable importance."

He granted a discharge without conviction, ruling the potential impact on Paiaaua outweighed the gravity of the offending.

The defendant was a site manager at Velvet Burger early last year and helped with managerial duties at Dunedin Social Club, another Cook Brothers Bars establishment.

On February 26, at 7am, Paiaaua went to the bar and entered using his key.

He deactivated the security alarm then walked into the office before switching off the lights to avoid being recorded by CCTV.

The man took the cash from the safe then left the premises.

When first approached by police, Paiaaua claimed he had returned to retrieve some property he had left behind.

That stance changed when he appeared in court.

Judge Phillips said the offending was a clear abuse of trust but noted the defendant had no previous convictions.

He was satisfied Paiaaua was remorseful and unlikely to be back before the court.

"The fact of a conviction on a young person’s record is a major impact alone," the judge said.

 

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