Gambling addict faced with huge debt after spending money he found in account.

An Auckland man spent more than $100,000 in a week after his bank accidentally transferred the money into his account, a court has heard.

Mehdi Soheili, whose name suppression lapsed yesterday, appeared in the Auckland District Court after admitting a charge of theft.

The 32-year-old's lawyer Shannon Withers called it "an unfortunate crime of opportunity" and told the court how his client gambled most of the cash away.

On November 13, Soheili found that his bank, the name of which is suppressed, had transferred $141,991 into his account in error.


Eight days later they froze his spending but not before he had spent a significant chunk of it.

Soheili, a qualified chef, admitted stealing $106,217.

"It was his addiction to gambling and an unwise series of decisions," Mr Withers said.

"This will impact upon his future for a considerable amount of time."

The lawyer said his client intended to pay the money back but his job prospects would be diminished if his name was made public.

Judge David Wilson, QC, declined name suppression and said that at $150 a week, it would take the defendant about 13 years to pay off his debt.

In the interim, the bank added the debt to Soheili's account, meaning he had a whopping six-figure, maxed-out overdraft.

The court heard how he had obtained a self-seclusion order from SkyCity to keep him away but the judge noted that had only been done in May, six months after the theft.


Soheili was due to be sentenced yesterday but because he had refused to let probation assess his home, he could not be considered for a community-based sentence.

Rather than sentence him to imprisonment, Judge Wilson adjourned the hearing until November so he could rethink his position, which appeared to please the defendant..

"Generally speaking a theft of this magnitude would lead to a jail sentence," the judge said.

He called the offending "an act of some significant dishonesty" but said that among his seven previous convictions, which included unlawfully taking a vehicle, there was little to suggest the defendant was capable of repeating such serious acts.

The case was not as bad as people defrauding others of their life savings, he said, but it was not a victimless crime.

"I don't accept there's been no loss to the bank. Whether they get fully paid, that remains to be seen," the judge said.

The judge was also surprised to hear that Mr Withers, as well as acting as Soheili's defence counsel, was also his anti-gambling sponsor and support person.

A pre-sentence report recommended a sentence of community detention, community work and supervision but the judge will make his final ruling in a couple of months.

The case echoes that of Rotorua man Leo Gao, whose account accidentally received $10 million.

After an overseas spending spree which lasted two and a half years he was eventually jailed for four years and seven months.

Gao was released on parole in December last year.