'Devious' travel agent took $179k

A travel agent who poached clients from his employer and kept nearly $180,000 commission for himself will make amends with community work.

Timothy Kevin Bignall, 35, was a long-serving agent for Orbit Corporate Travel when he was caught arranging travel for clients, invoicing them using company letterheads and diverting payment to his own bank account amounting to $952,753.

He paid for the services himself and kept the balance as his commission about 36 times from November 2009.

Bignall pleaded guilty to obtaining by deception in Wellington District Court last month, when his lawyer, Bryan Yeoman, said his client had thought his actions were being dealt with as an employment dispute.

But once he had repaid the $179,389.67 commission, his employer complained to police.

Bignall, of Lower Hutt, had even ended up out of pocket after a South African who made a $205,000 Rugby World Cup booking never paid him back.

Judge Mike Behrens, QC, told the court today Bignall had paid enough reparation to the company, despite there earlier being a dispute over what he owed Orbit.

But he ordered him to carry out 200 hours of community work.

''I get the feeling that you were keen on starting your own business, but there is more than one way of doing that.

''What you did was devious, dishonest.''

Bignall, who was supported in court by his mother and wife, refused to comment outside court.

The Dominion Post