A Hastings woman sentenced to jail after stealing $660,000 from her employer has been labelled a "determined thief" driven by greed.
Vicky Lee Kyle, 35, sat at a desk next to the owner of the business she was stealing from while creating hundreds of fake invoices to be paid into her own account.
Working as an office administrator at the business she betrayed for 17 years, she was responsible for paying creditors and wages to other staff members, a position that allowed her to pay company money into her own accounts.
When Kyle's offending was uncovered, documents were found which had been set up for future payments - a fact a judge said indicated an intention to continue stealing money long term.
The name of her employer was suppressed yesterday at Kyle's sentencing, where she was jailed for three years and two months after previously pleading guilty to 10 charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage.
In Napier District Court Judge Geoff Rea described the offending as motivated purely by greed and labelled Kyle a "determined thief".
"You ripped off somebody else to improve your own lifestyle," Judge Rea said. "You single-mindedly pillaged your employer for six-and-a-half years with little thought for the owners, their livelihoods and their families, the other employees, their livelihoods and their families."
Judge Rea also described how close-knit the company had been.
"Some of the employees had been there for 30 years - people who had worked a decade were called newcomers. You sat at a desk right next to the owner. You would have been well known and respected.
"A business such as this cannot afford to be pillaged. It is remarkable the business was able to continue."
The judge made note of the fact the emotional harm done was likely to be "life-long".
He took into account how the offending stopped. He said bank intervention brought the crimes to light.
"This was not a case where your guilty conscience got the better of you."
Kyle's lawyer, Eric Forster, said his client had paid back more than half of the money she had stolen and had liquidated all of her assets to do so.
He said the assets indicated a lifestyle beyond the means of the money she had rightfully earned.
The outstanding balance of the debt stands at $315,000 but only $50,000 is to be paid back - at a rate of $25 a week, with the first payment to be made two weeks after her release from jail.
Mr Forster told Hawke's Bay Today he was not surprised by the sentence and said Kyle had been realistic about the possible outcome.
"As every day comes she has prepared herself boldly. She has been really distressed about the whole thing from the outset."
Beginning in June 2006, when Kyle had been with the company for 10 years, she created false creditor invoices in the businesses accounting software system and processed them for payment, along with genuine invoices. The payments were approved before she changed the name and bank account numbers to her own.
Kyle's deceit was discovered in January this year after a total of $660,938 missing came to light.
She also used a rural fuel card belonging to the business to put petrol in her own cars - amounting to $3768.03 - and charged goods to the business' Mitre 10 account without deducting the amount from her own wages, as was policy. That amounted to $1333.93.
In a statement to police, Kyle said she was suffering from depression and she took the money as it enabled her to do things which made her feel better.
In his closing address, Judge Rea said he was doubtful about the legitimacy of the depression.
A few hours after being led away to start her sentence, an ambulance was called after Kyle was found in distress in the court's holding cells. It is understood she had been regularly checked on by court staff and corrections officers during that time and had been alone in the cell at the time.
St John Ambulance Service officers attended her and she was taken from the Napier Courthouse just before 1pm for treatment.