Biggest sentence 'self-inflicted wound' - judge

Last updated 05:00 17/01/2013

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A judge says it is unlikely a 53-year-old Mosgiel man who stole more than $76,000 from his sister will ever be welcome to family gatherings again.

Murray John Galt, a driver, appeared before Judge Roy Wade in Alexandra District Court yesterday on a representative charge of using property dishonestly and without claim of right between May 2004 and November 2007.

In that time Galt, employed as a farm manager by his sister Judith and her former husband, Stuart McNeill, on their farm in Lauder, used their Rural Traders Card, also known as a CRT credit card, to rack up $76,921 of personal charges.

However, Ms McNeill said it was believed the theft was likely to be around $1 million.

Galt bought food, books and petrol with the card.

He also used it to pay for an overseas holiday with his family.

Lawyer Brian Kilkelly said Galt did not have a written contract, an agreement to use the card was not discussed and his rights and responsibilities were not clear.

However, he had admitted exceeding what the conditions of employment would have been and had taken responsibility for the offending, he said.

"You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know you don't use your employer's credit card to fund private holidays.

"This was a gross abuse of trust.

"I very much doubt you will be welcome to any more family gatherings," the judge said.

Both Ms and Mr McNeill told the court how devastated they were after discovering the offending.

"The thing that distresses me more than anything is the level of betrayal. He steals anything in front of him. He shows no remorse for it," Mr McNeill said.

The judge sentenced Galt, who had since paid back the amount in full, to 300 hours' community work.

However, the biggest sentence was the "self-inflicted wound" Galt had imposed on himself with the loss of his family, the judge said.

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- The Southland Times

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