Owner 'abused' over employee's actions

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 08:30 31/05/2014

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The owner of Signature Homes says he was accused of being a "cheat", a "con-man" and "a thief and dishonest rogue" when copping the flak of the actions of a a trusted employee.

Gavin Hunt made the remarks in a victim impact statement in relation to the sentencing of Darryl Pugh yesterday.

Pugh, 42, was the general manager of Signature Homes Hawke's Bay Ltd from March 2007 until April 2010. The company, a franchise of Signature Homes Ltd, was forced into liquidation the next year.

It was later discovered that Pugh had made unauthorised purchases from the company's business account for goods and services totalling nearly $40,000 for his own home.

Hunt said he and his wife had invested heavily in the business, which he believed had been making good progress.

He said the Hunts took Pugh overseas to conferences, brought him to Auckland where he was well looked after, "discussed dreams and aspirations" and confirmed they wished to help secure his future.

"And all the time, while we were discussing and sharing these things with you, you were stealing from us," he said.

"All-up we spent over $1 million of our hard and honestly earned funds trying to salvage that business, but the hole you had created by your greed and dishonesty was too big".

Hunt said the effect on his family and his reputation was "immediate and disastrous".

Disaffected customers invaded their property, threatened his family and staff, "and for months on end [I] endured abusive phone calls at 2, 3 or 4am.

"I have a very strong reputation for honesty and integrity, and for treating people with respect, and literally hundreds of people will attest to that, and now here I was dealing with people referring to me as a cheat, a con-man, a liar and a thief and dishonest rogue all because of your actions," Hunt said.

Pugh's lawyer, Daniel Kerr, said his client had already paid $16,000 in reparation to Hunt, it was his first offence, he was remorseful and he now had work with an employer who knew of the offending.

Pugh pleaded guilty to a representative charge of theft by a person in a special relationship.

Judge Tony Adeane sentenced him to six months' community detention and 100 hours' community work and ordered him to pay further reparation of $23,200.

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- The Dominion Post

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