Ex-principal abandons home detention appeal

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 09:54 29/07/2014

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A South Auckland principal who stole more than $36,000 from her decile 1 primary school has abandoned her appeal at the last minute after being told it could result in her going to jail.

Colleen Margaret Gray, 66, the former principal of Otara's Mayfield Primary School, was sentenced to 12 months home detention after pleading guilty to nine charges of dishonestly using a document and two of using a forged document.

Her husband, Bruce Kenneth Gray, 65, was sentenced to 10 months' home detention after he pleaded guilty to four counts of dishonestly using a document.

Their case was before the Court of Appeal today but it was abandoned after approximately 30 seconds.

Justice Rhys Harrison told lawyer Marie Dhyrberg that the court had wide powers and appealing the Grays' sentences could open way for the Court to ​increase their sentences from home detention to prison.

He said though it was not "pre-determined" he wanted the appellants to know the risk they were running.

Dhyrberg went and telephoned her clients and returned to tell the court that the appeal was abandoned.

Colleen Gray was Mayfield's principal from 2000 to 2009.

The pair stole money from the school by having the husband's company invoice the school.

Gray also used the school credit card to buy food, beverages and flowers from Mission Bay and Parnell businesses, and  for several business-class flights to Australia for herself and her husband.

She paid for Koru Club valet parking with the card and claimed the money back from the New Zealand Principals' Federation and pocketed the money.

A pre-sentence report said that the Grays denied any criminal intent despite pleading guilty.

Colleen Gray blamed what she called "her current predicament" on "poor record-keeping".

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