Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Thief's struggle after confession to co-workers

The court heard she spent the money at a Paihia resort and on a limousine, gifts and spa packages. Photo / Thinkstock
The court heard she spent the money at a Paihia resort and on a limousine, gifts and spa packages. Photo / Thinkstock

A woman convicted of stealing $11,000 from the Christian store she managed says she has struggled with her former colleagues' lack of forgiveness after opening up about her past gambling problems.

Karen Quinn, 43, maintains her innocence despite a jury yesterday finding her guilty of 42 counts of theft by a person in a special relationship.

The charges stem from her time as manager at the Manna Christian Store in Whangarei. The shop's stated mission is to serve the Christian community and glorify God by providing resources that promote Biblical principles.

Quinn, herself a Christian, was found to have taken about $11,000 in cash from the store over six months from late 2009 to early 2010.

The court heard she spent the money at a Paihia resort and on a limousine, gifts and spa packages.

Speaking from the Raumanga home where she was bailed until her sentencing next month, Quinn maintained she had not taken the money.

"I know I'm innocent but due to what I could only call some dirty tactics, not all the evidence was actually put in front of the jury, which quite rightly would have swung it the other way - and I now have to live with the verdict that's been handed down."

Quinn did not dispute something had gone wrong at the store, saying systems and processes she was not entirely comfortable with had failed.

But she believes she was blamed because she opened up about her "previous issue with gambling".

"They can't come up with other answers, and I obviously became the number one best candidate, I guess. The fact of the matter is that sometimes when you're completely innocent ... it will come back and bite you."

Quinn said she had struggled with the store's lack of forgiveness over her past.

"I didn't expect it, given the nature of my employers being what they are - it was a shock. But they've made the decision to go down the road they have, and I have to live with the consequences."

Quinn said her gambling addiction was more than seven years in her past and she had since moved on.

It was "absolutely" upsetting that it had come back to haunt her.

"My life is an open book - the people who need to know, know about it. I'm not proud of it as I say, but I'm not going to hide it from the people that are around me and need to know it.

"It's part of who I am today - it's really that simple."

Quinn said the people close to her stood by her and firmly believed in her innocence

She could see why people would think the crime was worse because it was committed against a Christian store.

"However, the majority of people out there only know what they've read - they don't know the full picture. And I can't change people's opinions."

Quinn said she had been dealt "a huge injustice" and was still feeling gutted.

"I have to regather and move on the best that I possibly can."

The store declined to comment.

- additional reporting Northern Advocate


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