An Upper Hutt man arrived at Wellington District Court today with a $13,000 cheque as part payment of a much larger amount he had stolen from his employer to fund a gambling addiction.

Stephanus Otto was a property manager in charge of collecting rental payments on behalf of the Ministry of Education.

Between November 1 last year and June 1 this year, he redirected eight payments totalling $52,968 into his own bank account.

By adjusting computer settings, Otto transferred the money - which should have been paid to the landlord - to settle his own debts and to use for gambling.


He appeared for sentencing today before Judge Peter Hobbs, having earlier pleaded guilty to theft in a special relationship.

Lawyer Paul Knowsley said Otto had suffered "a spectacular fall from grace."

He had since taken steps to address the cause of his offending and written letters of apology to the complainant and the court.

"Pulling himself up by the bootstraps," he had found new work and was determined to pay back the rest of the stolen money.

Judge Hobbs said the fact that Otto's offending was driven by a gambling addiction was no excuse. He had used the money as if it were his own.

However, he was "clearly remorseful."

The judge sentenced Otto to three months' home detention and 100 hours' community work. He must also undertake a gambling prevention programme and pay the remaining reparation.