The son of a WWII prisoner of war and hero of the Battle of Crete who admitted stealing nearly $90,000 from his dead father's veterans' pension will only have to repay $4500.

Lawrence McRae, 67, had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing the money, calculated at $89,259,89.

He appeared for sentence today before Judge Jonathan Down in Napier District Court.

In addition to the reparation, McRae, 67, was sentenced to six months' home detention and 100 hours' community work.


It was a pension originally paid to father Colin McRae, a WWII veteran.

When the former serviceman died in 1992, the pension transferred to wife Iris, and should have ended when she died in 1993.

But, becoming a signatory to the relevant account, Lawrence McRae accessed and used the money until Veteran Affairs New Zealand discovered the rort when it investigated after correspondence to the late Mrs McRae was returned after being sent to an incorrect address.

After submission by defence counsel Philip Jensen, Judge Down recognised repaying the full amount would be "impractical and impossible." He ordered McRae to immediately pay $1700 which was held in an account and the rest of the $4500 by instalments.

He noted while McRae had a small record of historic convictions, which the Judge said were irrelevant to the proceedings and sentencing. He had good reference as being of integrity and of good character.

He said McRae had not used the proceeds to finance high living, but had used it to the benefit of family.