Employee stole from non-profit using credit card

File photo
File photo
A Queenstown non-profit that was ripped off by an employee fears its reputation has suffered lasting damage.

The organisation’s name has been permanently suppressed to protect its reputation.

Between January 30 and July 1 last year, the defendant took the organisation’s credit card without the necessary authorisation and used it to buy gift cards at supermarkets and other stores in the resort town on 31 occasions.

She then spent the gift cards, which had a total value of nearly $5000, for her personal use.

After working for the organisation for about eight months, the defendant was finally arrested on six charges of dishonestly using a credit card.

Counsel Annaliese Carlaw said the woman was "financially desperate" and living in an abusive relationship at the time of the offending.

A victim impact statement written by the organisation’s chief executive said the offending had caused it significant damage "financially, emotionally and reputationally".

It had caused a lot of upset to its staff members because many of them were friends of the defendant and her family.

Judge Doyle said the organisation got some of its funding from central government, and remained concerned the offending would "bring the entire organisation into disrepute".

"That damage would be very difficult to repair."

The offending was premeditated, prolonged and involved a serious breach of trust.

The defendant had three previous convictions for theft in a special relationship, two for attempting to pervert the course of justice, as well as convictions for theft and breaching community work.

The judge acknowledged she had been living in an abusive relationship at the time, but did not accept a "causal connection" between that situation and the offending because her criminal history showed a pattern of behaviour over many years.

Taking into account the defendant’s co-operation with the police, guilty plea and expression of remorse, she came to a term of imprisonment of seven months.

She converted that to seven months’ home detention, because the law required her to impose the least restrictive outcome in the circumstances.

The defendant must also pay back her former employer $4928.50.

— Guy Williams, PIJF court reporter