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Auckland Problem Gambler Loses High Court Appeal Over Theft

Across the globe, gambling addiction often falls in treatment categories with other serious addictions such as ones to alcohol or drugs. Excessive gambling and chasing losses often push people into unlawful activities with the list including tax fraud, scams or in serious cases even violent crimes or robberies.

In one case, a gambling addict from Auckland, New Zealand, who stole more than NZ$500,000 ($305,200) from the company where she was employed as a manager, sought to appeal her prison sentence. The criminal case involves a 37-year-old woman who used to be a manager for Allied Petroleum Limited (APL), a leading lubricants and fuel supplier in the country.

The woman, identified with the initials K.D.R.W., was sentenced to two years and four months in prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to several charges, as reported by the New Zealand Herald. Overall, the 37-year-old former APL manager pleaded guilty to one charge of dishonestly using a document, two counts of accessing a computer for dishonest purposes and two charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.

An Appeal in the High Court Dismissed After receiving the prison sentence of nearly 2.5 years, the former APL manager filed an appeal with the High Court. In her appeal, the 37-year-old argued that her sentence was “manifestly excessive,” outlining that the judge who initially sentenced her started at a higher than necessary reference point.

However, Justice David Boldt with the High Court dismissed the appeal of the woman, who suffers from problem gambling. Boldt explained that the former manager was pushed into the crime primarily due to her gambling addiction which was “the only apparent explanation – for what happened.”

Speaking about the sentence the woman received, the Judge said that it was “well short” of being excessive, especially considering the “generous” discounts she was given. Boldt acknowledged the “profound” effect the criminal activities of the young woman had on the team she was previously a part of.

He explained that the losses the company sustained from the actions of the former manager were valued at NZ$517,780 ($316,100). Once the fraudulent activity was uncovered, the former manager had only NZ$16,000 ($9,800) left in her Kiwisaver account, a sum that Boldt said was a “drop in the bucket when measured against the overall fraud.”

A Sophisticated and Deliberate Fraud The court documents describe the actions of the former APL manager as “deliberate and sophisticated fraud.” The 37-year-old conducted the unlawful activities for a year and a half starting from March 2018.

At the time, she abused her position as a manager to order NZ$428,000 ($261,200) worth of pre-paid envelopes and courier bags. Subsequently, all of those supplies were sold for a value that was less than half of their actual worth. Using a portal called TradeMe, the former manager sold the goods for NZ$215,600 ($131,600).

In another case of abusing her role, the woman purchased gift cards with an Allied Petroleum credit card. Although those transactions were flagged as bonuses for her subordinates, in reality, the woman kept all of those gift cards.

Per court documents, the 37-year-old also stole lubricants and oils from APL. An estimated NZ$86,266 ($52,600) worth of products was taken by the former manager who later sold them for only NZ$20,900 ($12,800) via TradeMe.

The proceeds obtained from the unlawful activities fueled the woman’s gambling addiction. The report doesn’t suggest what sort of gambling activities she engaged in or whether that was done via retail or online outlets.

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