Perpetual Guardian staff member ripped off elderly clients

Robert Thomas Clark, 44, stole more than $66,000 from client accounts at Perpetual Guardian, where he was a client manager.
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

Robert Thomas Clark, 44, stole more than $66,000 from client accounts at Perpetual Guardian, where he was a client manager.

A Christchurch man has apologised for ripping off elderly clients at the estate management company where he worked.

Robert Thomas Clark, 44, has repaid $21,000 of the $66,634 he stole from client accounts at Perpetual Guardian, where he was a client manager.

He now has other work and his new employer knows about his offending, which he admitted with a guilty plea to a charge of theft by a person in a special relationship on December 8.

The work means he is continuing to pay reparations at a rate of $50 a week. That amount would be reviewed if his circumstances improved, Clark told Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan at his sentencing, where he was given home detention.

Clark represented himself and his plea in mitigation – where the court is usually told some positive things about the offender – turned out to be a long and detailed apology.

Clark apologised to the people he stole from, his family and the court.

"I was there to protect [the clients] and I should have done a lot better than I did. I'm very disappointed with myself.

"I apologise to my family – my wife and son – who have become the innocent victims in all this and will be suffering for years to come."

He said he had co-operated with his employers and the police when the investigation began.

In a report to the judge, the firm said Clark's offending had been "calculated and deliberate theft, targeted against elderly and vulnerable clients over a prolonged period".

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Clark had processed and approved transactions using unattended employee computers within the office, transferring funds 39 times from client accounts into his bank accounts, a finance company account, and a Telecom account in his own name.

His employment was terminated on May 3, at a meeting with the employer after the offending was uncovered when another staff member noticed a suspicious transaction.

Judge Callaghan said Clark was remorseful and ashamed about the effects on his family. He had co-operated and pleaded guilty early.

He decided that a three-month home detention sentence could be imposed, along with 120 hours of community work, and six months of special post-detention conditions during which Clark must undergo budgetary assistance and any other required interventions.

He will also have to continue paying the remaining reparations at $50 a week.

 - Stuff

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