A Northland company director has been jailed for ripping off his struggling business of nearly $200,000 and using part of the money to pay rent for his daughter's hair salon.

Colin John Harris earlier pleaded guilty to five charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, three of using a forged document, and charges of obtaining by deception and dishonestly using a document.

The 54-year-old, who also goes by the name Jock, was sentenced by the Whangārei District Court yesterday to three years and one month in jail.

In addition to the $193,304 Colin John Harris spent on himself and his family, he attempted to use a further $217,700 of Pre Paid Home Lines' money but could not due to insufficient funds.


He was a director of the company and is now has been made bankrupt. The court did not order reparation as Harris has no means to pay.

His actions between 2009 and 2013 forced the Whangārei-based telecommunications company into such dire financial straits it was liquidated on November 8 last year.

The company, which he established in October 2005, supplied pre-paid telephone landlines throughout New Zealand.

Initially there were four directors but two left, leaving Harris and Neville Montefiore as co-directors until the former resigned in March 2012.

Harris' offending began in May 2009 when he forged a co-director's signature on a $26,200 cheque to pay a bill, knowing there were insufficient funds to complete the transaction. He forged two more cheques in June 2016 and admitted his actions to police, saying "they all did it".

In August 2010, he borrowed $200,000 from the Cooper Family Trust on behalf of Pre Paid Home Lines without Montefiore's authority.

Harris used the money but the responsibility of repaying the amount fell on the company.

In May and September 2010 Harris made separate direct debits of $7500 and $15,000 from the company accounts to pay rent for Reflections Hair and Beauty Salon at Marsden Pt. His daughter was the director of the hair salon.


Harris attempted to transfer a further $32,000 to help pay rent for the hair salon but the company account could not cover it. He used $7197 via online banking, $40,507 worth of cheques and $23,099 using the company credit card in New Zealand and overseas for personal use.

Harris used the card to pay for dental treatment, hotel accommodation, food and drinks, airport duty free goods in Dubai, and on Sky TV.

Judge Keith de Ridder said Harris used the company finances for his own selfish purposes, forcing the business into liquidation. He said in their victim impact statements, the company directors felt a deep sense of betrayal and abuse and the effects of Harris' offending was ongoing.

Judge de Ridder said while no reparation would be ordered in the criminal court, the company could pursue the money lost through civil proceedings.