A Rotorua woman took advantage of a vulnerable and ill man by stealing his money to spend on the pokies, a court has heard.

Dianne Aroha Isobel Skipwith, 52, has appeared in the Rotorua District Court before Judge Marie McKenzie to be sentenced for obtaining a document for pecuniary advantage. The charge relates to Skipwith using a man's eftpos card to withdraw $1400 without permission last December, using the money to gamble.

Skipwith, who has previous dishonesty offences, has blamed an addiction to pokie machines for past offending. In 2003, she was convicted of stealing wallets from shopping trolleys to feed her gambling habit.

Regarding Skipwith's latest offending, Judge McKenzie said she took money from a "vulnerable, ill man", breaching his trust.


"You used the money to gamble," Judge McKenzie said. "It's shameful that you stole ... from a man that has serious health problems and you put him through having to put a complaint through to police."

According to Department of Internal Affairs figures, between January and March, 2012, $5.1 million was spent on pokie machines in Rotorua, which has 408 machines in 28 venues.

The police summary of facts states Skipwith was at Whare Aroha on December 8 last year and arranged to borrow $100 from a man, obtaining his eftpos card and pin number. She withdrew the agreed amount later that day. Between December 8 and December 12, Skipwith used the victim's eftpos card eight times to access a total of $1400 without his consent. Skipwith said she had intended to pay him back with ACC payments.

Judge McKenzie said Skipwith denied she had alcohol and gambling problems but "when something like gambling gets you into criminal trouble, you have a problem". She said it seemed Skipwith didn't realise the impact she had had on the victim.

Skipwith was sentenced to four months' community detention, 200 hours' community work, nine months' supervision and was ordered to pay reparation to the victim.

Rotorua's pokie machine spending
January-March 2012: $5,086,431.37.
October-December 2011: $5,653,038.24.
June-September 2011: $5,571,033.92.
April-June 2011: $5,614,587.88.