Judge: Manager's reputation ruined by fraud

A Te Awamutu appliance store manager convicted of stealing more than $13,000 in an elaborate fraud has "completely destroyed" his standing in the community, a judge has said.

"The biggest punishment for you, in my view, will be the loss of reputation in the community," Judge Philip Connell said as he sentenced Peter Wavish yesterday to 220 hours' community work.

Wavish, 48, had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of false accounting and theft by a person in a special relationship.

The Hamilton District Court was told Wavish had been the manager of Heathcote Appliances 100% Te Awamutu store for six years.

But for the three years leading up to the day he lost his job - in September last year - he had been defrauding the Waikato-owned business.

His offending was picked up after Heathcote management carried out an audit of the store in August.

The audit discovered a shortfall in stock in the store and computerised records.

Wavish had been cancelling sales, which meant sold stock was put back on the shelves.

Only a person in a management role could complete such a manoeuvre, Judge Connell said, and effectively gave Wavish equity to manipulate.

Investigators found that from March 30, 2009 to September, 11, 2012, there were 90 fraudulent transactions.

The transactions ranged from $9 to $1430, totalling $13,234.

Defence lawyer Mark Sturm said Wavish had since paid the amount back in full and would pay the balance of a further $1060 incurred by Heathcote after investigating the fraud.

Mr Sturm said Wavish's actions were initially done in an attempt to cover up stock losses that he could not explain.

"From there he got into a rut of behaviour, a pattern of behaviour."

Mr Sturm said Wavish felt the pressure of managing a store, a job he had done for six years, and struggled with the workload.

Judge Connell said Wavish's references spoke highly of him but his offending had destroyed his reputation.

Speaking afterwards, Heathcote Appliances joint managing director Grant Heathcote said his company set high standards and "dishonesty in any form" would not be tolerated.

"We've got excellent employees and I've only had to go through this sort of process once before, Mr Heathcote said.

Homicide case

Waikato police have launched a homicide investigation into the death of a 44-year-old Ngaruawahia man after the findings of a post mortem held yesterday.

Police were called to a rural property north of Ngaruawahia about 11am on Sunday after the man's death.

A 38-year-old Hamilton man was charged with assault in connection with the incident and appeared briefly in the Hamilton District Court late yesterday.

The man, dressed in a blue boiler suit and flanked by two police officers, was granted name suppression and was remanded in custody without plea to reappear in court next month.

Police are continuing to speak with people who were at the property at the time of the incident.

Waikato Times