Kawakawa school worker sentenced for fraud

By Lindy Laird -
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A Kawakawa woman convicted of 18 charges of stealing more than $30,000 from a school she worked for has been sentenced to eight months' home detention and 140 hours' community work.

Nisha Nazzmeen Marsh, a former administrator at Kawakawa Primary School, pleaded guilty in April to 13 charges of using a document to gain a pecuniary advantage by writing out cheques to herself from a school bank account and five of theft by a person in a special relationship.

After her sentencing by Judge Murray Hunt in Kaikohe Court yesterday, Kawakawa Primary School board of trustees chairman Roger Dephoff said he was relieved the matter was concluded.

"The sentence she received is outweighed by the shame and what has happened to her in this community," Mr Dephoff said.

"We don't hold any animosity toward her, her reasoning was her reasoning, but at the time it did divide the staff and the community."

Marsh's offending began in December 2012 and lasted just over 11 months, during which she helped herself to $30,980 of the school's money by depositing monies from fundraisers into her personal bank account, paying cheques to herself and the purchase of fuel.

Marsh stood with her back to the public gallery and courtroom, head bowed, in tears and with hands clasped.

"The victims of this were in fact children," Judge Hunt told her. "It was their fundraising money you stole."

He said, after stealing from a vulnerable community Marsh made no attempt to repay any money, even though she worked for the Waitangi National Trust after losing her school job.

Marsh lost that position at Waitangi early this year after refusing to discuss with her employers the circumstances relating to her dismissal from the school.

Judge Hunt said he did not accept the "circular" argument presented by Marsh's defence counsel, Casey Murray and Todd Luders, that she could not begin to repay the money because she didn't have a job, and she would not get another job if she had fraud convictions.

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