Family 'shamed' by mother's stealing

Last updated 19:10 12/06/2014

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An accountant and mother of four has brought “great shame” on her family after being convicted of stealing nearly $25,000 while working for Auckland Council.

Eseta Apineru, 36, appeared in Auckland District Court this afternoon after pleading guilty to a charge of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose.

Over the course of seven months last year, on 13 separate occasions, the Manurewa woman manipulated the council’s financial system to siphon $24,340 into her personal accounts.

Today Judge Ema Aitken sentenced her to 300 hours community work, 12 months supervision and ordered her to repay $6000.

Apineru’s lawyer Ella Burton said “her career in that area is effectively over”, which had put huge strain on the offender’s partner to provide for the family of six.

He was now studying engineering all day and working nights while she looked after the kids, who were aged between two and 10.

“She’s an intelligent woman who made a great mistake,” Burton said.

Since the offending, the family had made changes to ensure it did not happen again.

Apineru now received “an allowance” from her husband, while he had sole access to their accounts.

Judge Aitken said the offending - which involved Apineru photocopying the signature of her supervisor – was “serious dishonesty”.

“You used your position of authority and breached the trust everyone had in you,” she said.

When confronted by police, Apineru explained she stole the money simply because she wanted things she could not afford.

There were also occasions when she was put under pressure to give money to extended family, the judge said.

Apineru, who had no prior convictions, was ordered to repay her debt at $30 a week.

“From all that’s said about you, there’s not a big risk you’ll continue to behave in this way but can I just remind you that if you do, in effect you’re inviting the court to sentence you to a period of imprisonment,” Judge Aitken said.

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