Thief's partner died during inquiry

The partner of a woman who stole more than $660,000 from her Hawke's Bay employer died suddenly a few days after police spoke to him about her offending.

The Parole Board said yesterday that it would free Vicky Lee Kyle, 36, next Monday after she had served just over a year of her prison sentence of three years and two months for 10 counts of using a document for pecuniary or financial advantage.

Kyle was jailed in April last year, and her long-term partner, Clinton Harrison, died three months later.

Hawke's Bay police confirmed yesterday that they spoke to Harrison several days before his death to arrange a formal interview with him about Kyle's offending.

"That never happened because he died," a police spokeswoman said.

Harrison's death had been referred to the coroner, but a date for a hearing was yet to be set.

The Parole Board findings noted that Kyle's principal corrections officer was impressed at the strength she showed when an unnamed man died during her time in prison. "This is particularly impressive given Ms Kyle's history of depression."

Kyle blamed depression for her offending. "She said she did not want to deal with depression so stole the money to fund projects around the house to keep her busy and to keep her from having to deal with her real issues," the board findings say.

She stole the money over 6 years, which was "a serious and significant breach of trust" because she had been employed by the company for more than 17 years.

The dishonesty ended only when it was discovered during a random check by the company's bank. She had since repaid more than half the money.

The board said Kyle used her time in prison productively, including working in the kitchen, and had become a "well respected and valued" member of the kitchen staff.

Kyle was committed to repaying the $50,000 she was ordered to pay as reparation in ongoing instalments.

The board said she no longer posed an undue risk to community safety if freed, but it imposed conditions that included never working in a job that involved handling other people's money.

Her 61-year-old employer, who has name suppression, knew Kyle for 25 years and she had become a trusted member of his staff during her 17 years of working for him.

The business struggled financially for about five years and he frequently discussed its financial problems with Kyle, who sat beside him in the office.

"I'd be telling her something is way wrong here. I trusted her and I never thought she'd be stealing it.

"I won't be having a retirement. She's stolen that."

Kyle created fake invoices and misused business accounts to finance a lavish lifestyle as well as paying for power bills, rates and petrol. She bought expensive gifts for Harrison, including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a car.

Police had indicated they were unable to prosecute Harrison, because he claimed he was unaware of her thieving.

The company warned Harrison it planned to take action against him, but had not done so at the time of his death.

The Dominion Post