Gambler stole from Queenstown employer

A problem gambler was sentenced to four months' home detention after stealing more than $21,000 from her employer.

Nicole Healy, 39, administration clerk, of Kingston, was visibly upset during sentencing before Judge Michael Turner in the Queenstown District Court yesterday for accessing a Westpac online account and business account dishonestly, three charges of using a credit card to commit theft and using a BNZ business account to commit theft between November and March.

Healy began stealing from Queenstown businessman James MacAlister after she began working for him and used the funds to gamble online.

MacAlister ran business accounts through Westpac, changing to BNZ about August, but kept the Westpac credit card and accounts open for historic debtors.

In September, he cut up the credit card but, around the same time, he employed Healy as an administrative accounts clerk, with duties including payment of bills.

She began making unauthorised transactions between the accounts and used the credit cards to spend on gambling websites.

On February 25, the business owner checked online accounts with Westpac and found transactions amounting to $15,290 between December 12 and February 25.

The judge said Healy had been aware of other financial setbacks the business had suffered after it lost money through another employee with a gambling problem.

Lawyer Mike Newell said Healy had been having counselling over the phone for the gambling problem because there were no services in Queenstown. The judge said he thought that was unusual, considering the resort had two casinos.

Healey was ordered to pay $11,411.88 reparation to her employer, $10,667.80 reparation to the bank, attend a gambling programme and was also sentenced to 120 hours' community work.

The Southland Times