The employer of a woman who stole more than $200,000 lived on the bare minimum for three years completely unaware one of his most trust staff members was stealing from him.

It would eventually be a new staff member at AP Group who became suspicious about Lois Jean Povey's transactions that eventually lifted the lid on her sizeable, and lengthy, theft.

And it was the lengthy nature of Povey's theft that today saw Judge Philip Connell jail her for two years and two months in the Hamilton District Court.

Judge Connell said although she was a first-time offender and, up until 2010 - when the offending began - was a decent citizen, he couldn't help but look at the amount stolen and over how long - five years - that left him with no option but to send her to prison.


The judge was also dubious about her claims that she spent all the money on her gambling addiction, and noted she had spent it on household and family expenses, including her daughter's mechanics bill.

Povey, 58, had earlier admitted two representative charges of false accounting and theft by a person in a special relationship.

Her offending occurred over a five year period - between June 10, 2010 and December 21, 2015 - and involved 76 separate fraudulent transactions to a total of $203,508.

The largest transaction was for $7625.49.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Ure said the biggest aggravating features were the pre-meditation, planning and the "significant" breach of trust.

The global recession led to the slashing of staff and also to Povey being put in sole charge of the company's accounts.

However, despite the cull more cuts were made, until the company was effectively treading water.

Povey, of Raglan, assembled invoices before getting approval from the owner, creating a payment schedule and direct credit suppliers' bank accounts.

When creating the schedule she also created a dummy invoice - with a regular supplier's name so as not to arouse suspicion - and list her own bank account to pay the money into.

By the time her accounts were frozen only $1,000 was left.

Povey's counsel, Hayley Carson, said her client had since given up gambling for good.

Despite trying to gather some reparation, Povey had been unable to get permission from Westpac to sign over the approximate $25,000 that was currently in her KiwiSaver.

She only owned a quarter share in the home that she co-owned with her partner and daughter and daughter's partner and was "not in a position" to sell it.

She urged Judge Connell to offer enough discount for her age, health, early guilty pleas and remorse to get him down to a level where he could issue a sentence of home detention.

But he wasn't interested and said her actions had been too serious.

"The issue is one which is your breach of trust. To me that is probably the most aggravating feature ... you caused a great deal of trouble for your boss. He had to let experienced staff go because of what he thought was the poor performance of his business.

"In fact it was your taking of the money that caused that loss. He also had to take on business loans and at times he himself did not take any drawings from the company and went unpaid in order to simply keep his head above water."

In explanation for her offending, Povey considered she was only borrowing the money and had intended to pay it back.

The judge declined to issue an order for reparation given she was going to jail and had no money available.

When contacted after sentencing, AP Group owner Andrew Proudlock told the Herald Povey had been employed by him for eight years and during that time was regarded as "the third mother".

"When you look back on what have been invested and you make decisions based on your business ... and laying staff off all because of what she did. It's pretty gut-wrenching.

"She was like, kind of, your trusted third mother ... and we respected her ... the worst thing was that we trusted her to pay the accounts and that was the worst thing we did.

"Our firm went from 25 staff to seven over the recession and we lost a lot of work, like everyone else ... but the financial position we were in, we were struggling a little bit."

It hurt even more to know that in 2014 she bought a house - during the middle of the offending period, he said.

"There were probably three or four good people who were long-serving good members of our team that we had to let go ... but we've bounced back, we've moved on and we're in a very strong position now."