Manager on trial for theft, arson

ANNE CLARKSON
Last updated 13:58 04/02/2013

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A Christchurch man set fire to his workplace because his employer found out $3000 had not been banked, a jury has been told.

Anthony Dobson, 36, was charged with theft by a person in a special relationship and arson after the Wicked Campers depot in Allen St in central Christchurch was damaged by fire on July 6, 2010.

Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore told Judge David Saunders and a jury that the week before the fire, irregularities were found in the filing and banking being done by Dobson.

Dobson, the branch manager, was required to send computer and manual filing to the head office every day, and the money had to be banked every day, she said.

Dobson, who had been working for Wicked Campers for less than three months, was asked about his failure to do so for five days in a row by the owner of the company on July 5.

On July 6, the owner phoned Dobson three times to ask him to send the transaction sheets and bank the cash, but was told the fax machine was broken, Dobson had a gashed leg and needed medical attention and that Dobson's cellphone was flat, Elsmore said.

Dobson banked more than $2000 and sent through the missing transactions sheets, but the owner found there was over $3000 missing.

That night, Dobson was the last to be left in the building and said he would lock up.

The Crown alleges he lit a fire in his office and another in the laundry area before he left the building.

The office and depot were engulfed in flames, and asbestos in the roof caught fire. The damage to the office was severe.

Elsmore said the actions were of a man under pressure, knowing his employer had found him out, and the arson was a panicked response. His motive was the missing cash.

Defence counsel Lee-Lee Heah said Dobson was interviewed by police and did not try to hide the fact that he was the last employee to leave the premises before the fire.

She said he had nothing to do with the fire, and maintained his innocence through the police interviews.

It was not until a couple of months after the fire that he was accused of stealing the cash from his employer, she said.

The trial is expected to continue into next week.

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- The Press

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