Kiwibank scam: It wasn't the 'tooth fairy'

The defendant fully accepted "it wasn't the tooth fairy" who put $5000 in his bank account, counsel for Mosgiel labourer Gavin Manu Howie, 23, told the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

The impetus for Howie's offending was a car crash which saw him on ACC and without a car, and he was "preoccupied" with replacing his car, counsel Helgi Henderson said.

Howie, one of three people dealt with so far in relation to a scam against Kiwibank, was sentenced to 200 hours' community work for dishonestly using his bank card for financial gain.

He admitted the charge last month, when the court heard he became aware of the scam in April and, when $5000 was deposited in his account on April 16, he withdrew it all within an hour although he knew he was not entitled to the money.

Between 11.13pm and 11.16pm, Howie made four separate withdrawals at the Mornington Post Shop Kiwibank ATM, with another at the Dunedin Casino shortly after midnight when he used his card to obtain the remaining $2500.

Prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said the fact the various people involved cleaned out their bank accounts as soon as money had been deposited suggested deliberate offending with knowledge.

Mr Henderson said the offending could be called brazen. But ``all roads'' were always going to lead to Howie. There was never any hope he was going to be able to avoid liability.

He had reached an agreement to repay the $5000, plus any administration fee, by weekly instalments of $100.

Judge Macdonald said he dealt with another person on Tuesday for "virtually identical'' offending, approaching that case on the basis the money was "a fortuitous happening''.

In Howie's case, he took the view that, once the money was in his account, the defendant knew he was not entitled to it but still withdrew it "very quickly''.

His case was more serious than the other one, Judge Macdonald said, sentencing the defendant to 200 hours' community work.

Howie was on release conditions at the time he offended and probation saw "a high likelihood of reoffending'' - which was not surprising, given his six-page list of convictions for "quite a wide range of offending'', the judge said.

* Dunedin man Adrian Waldron, 32, forklift driver, who had admitted stealing $4800 from Kiwibank on April 26, was given a sentence of 125 hours' community work on Tuesday.

- Otago Daily Times

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