Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Decile 1 school scammers abandon appeal

Colleen Gray and Bruce Gray. Photo / HOS
Colleen Gray and Bruce Gray. Photo / HOS

A former principal and her husband who scammed $30,000 from a decile one school have abandoned their appeal after a judge told them they may be jailed.

Colleen Margaret Gray, 66, and Bruce Kenneth Gray, 65, siphoned the money from Mayfield Primary School in Otara, using it on overseas trips and lavish meals between 2005 and 2007.

After initially denying the offending, the pair pleaded guilty to a total of 15 fraud charges midway through an Auckland District Court trial.

Read more:
Former principal took $30K from decile one school

In May, Colleen Gray was sentenced to a year's home detention. Her husband received a 10-month term.

The pair disputed the sentence and the case was briefly heard at the Court of Appeal this morning.

Before the Grays' lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg QC, could address the court, Justice Rhys Harrison warned her that if the appeal was unsuccessful both her clients could have their sentences substituted with terms of imprisonment.

"It's not a pre-determined view but we take a preliminary opinion that this was a sentence well open to the judge and perhaps a generous one," Justice Harrison said.

After communicating with the Grays, Ms Dyhrberg abandoned the appeal.

Colleen Gray, who was a member of the New Zealand Principals' Federation executive, used the school credit card for food at Mecca at Mission Bay and Francoli Bar and Restaurant in Ellerslie.

But much of the cash -- which came out of the school's annual operational grant from the Ministry of Education -- was spent on trips to Australia and London.

The latter was explained as an assignment for "teacher recruitment purposes".

Fake invoices were also filed so payments were made to companies owned by Bruce Gray.

At sentencing, Auckland District Court Judge Rob Ronayne said the offending exhibited a gross breach of trust and the couple had never shown any acceptance of their wrongdoing, despite their guilty pleas.

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