Business payroll thief jailed

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 11:15 23/01/2013

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A former payroll worker who stole more than a quarter of a million dollars from her employer has been jailed, although what she did with the money is in dispute.

Gladys Ruth Campbell, 64, of Feilding, looked after the accounts of Lower Hutt firm Aztech Engineering.

She started there in 2009, and between March 2010 and December last year took $261,205 by falsifying entries in the firm’s MYOB computer accounting programme.

In the Palmerston North District Court yesterday, she was jailed for two years and three months on a charge of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose.

Judge Gerard Lynch said Campbell used the money to fund her $600 to $700-a-day gambling addiction, but Aztech owner Nathan Brown told the court his own inquiries revealed otherwise.

Campbell last year declared herself bankrupt and Mr Brown said he had discovered from the Official Assignee that Campbell had been ‘‘living a life of extravagance’’ at his expense.

He said she took holidays, bought four motor vehicles and started a business – a Palmerston North antique shop – with the stolen money.

When he had been with her in a social setting, Mr Brown said he saw no evidence to suggest Campbell was addicted to gambling.

But defence lawyer Peter Brosnahan said she picked up the habit when her former husband would make her take him to hotels.

While she waited to drive him home he would give her money to feed the pokies.

That relationship was ‘‘abusive’’ and resulted in Campbell suffering from mental health difficulties, Mr Brosnahan said.

She had co-operated with the police and said she wished to pay reparation.

Judge Lynch ordered her to pay $110,000 back, saying Campbell would be unable to refund the full amount.

About $50,000 of that could come from funds held by the Official Assignee and $20,000 from her KiwiSaver account.

The judge was critical of Campbell’s actions and noted that Mr Brown and fellow business owner Bruce Hollow had to top up Aztech’s coffers from their own pocket.

‘‘While you said that you never meant to hurt anyone, you can’t systematically rip off a company of this size without it having an impact,’’ Judge Lynch told Campbell.

ABOUT CAMPBELL

Gladys Campbell successfully applied to the High Court last year to declare her bankrupt.

The insolvency register says she also goes by the names Bobbie Jo Campbell and Gladys Ruth Walsh.

According to her Linkedin profile she also owns the Celestial Consulting and Healing Clinic. It offers medium and clairvoyant services to ‘‘help others help themselves through positive life changes’’.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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