A woman who fleeced her employers of $2.77m to fund her lavish lifestyle has had her jail sentence quashed.
But Tessa Fiona Grant will remain behind bars as the quashed sentence has been replaced with another shorter term of imprisonment.
Last September Grant was sentenced to seven years and eight months imprisonment after earlier pleading guilty to 10 fraud-related charges.
Her relatively sophisticated fraud which spanned eight years - while she worked as a senior staffer at SkyCity Hamilton and Waikato Diocesan School for Girls - saw her buying a $900,000 property, a $68,000 horse and $55,000 in custom-designed jewellery.
Grant was ordered to serve at least half of her initial sentence, handed down in the Hamilton District Court.
However on appeal, that sentence was quashed and replaced with a shorter sentence of six years' imprisonment.
The new sentence remains subject to a minimum period of imprisonment of 50 per cent.
The Court of Appeal released its decision on Grant's bid to reduce her time in jail and minimum period.
She submitted to the court that her sentence should have been reduced "to take into account the substantial recovery by SkyCity and the full recovery by the school of its direct financial losses".
"She says that, because information about a settlement with SkyCity was treated as confidential, it was not made available to the District Court Judge, and this meant he was unaware Ms Grant had made substantial reparation to SkyCity," the decision stated.
"She also contends she received an inadequate reduction for her guilty pleas."
Justice Jillian Mallon also revealed details of SkyCity's civil recovery in relation to Grant's theft.
She stated that the sentencing judge was "not informed of the details" of the settlement the company had received.
The police had a copy of the settlement agreement, but it appeared the prosecutor who handled sentencing was not aware of it.
"We do not know why Ms Grant's counsel in the District Court did not obtain details of the settlement either," Justice Mallon said.
She said Grant's appeal lawyer sought a copy of the settlement agreement from the Crown.
"The Crown enquired with SkyCity which declined to provide the information on the basis it was confidential," said Justice Mallon.
Grant's lawyer then applied for a court order to get the information.
"The Crown's position was that SkyCity's recovery in a confidential civil recovery from a third party was irrelevant to the criminal proceeding," said Justice Mallon.
"We agree with Mr Chisnall (Grant's lawyer) that the Crown was wrong about this. It ought to have taken steps to facilitate the information being placed before this court."
Justice Mallon said SkyCity eventually provided details of civil proceedings against Grant.
She said in January 2016 SkyCity obtained freezing orders over assets belonging to Grant, associated with Grant, her father and a third party.
"Mr Grant provided an affidavit in connection with the freezing orders application," said Justice Mallon.
"He explained that he was unaware of Ms Grant's offending and, when the offending against the school was discovered, he arranged through his lawyer to sell three properties which Ms Grant owned.
"These were sufficient to repay the school including principal and interest.
"Mr Grant's company also took over a $800,000 mortgage and an obligation for $400,000 of improvements to a property.
"One of the horse trucks owned by Ms Grant was sold for $205,000 and, after deduction of $55,000 which Ms Grant owed to her father, the balance of the proceeds were paid to Mr Grant's company."
Justice Mallon revealed that in August 2016 SkyCity entered into a settlement agreement with Grant's father and his company.
"Pursuant to this settlement Mr Grant and his company agreed to pay SkyCity $1.4 million.
"Once payment was made the freezing orders against them would be discharged.
"The parties agreed this settlement had "no effect on the civil or criminal claim" against Ms Grant."
Justice Mallon said they further agreed that SkyCity would discontinue its claim against Grant.
"The notice of discontinuance explained to the court that this was because continuing the claim would serve no purpose given that Ms Grant was now serving a sentence of imprisonment and had no assets," she explained in the ruling.
"Accordingly, it appears that SkyCity recovered not less than $1.4 million.
"The total amount referred to in the charges against Ms Grant for offending against SkyCity was $1,980,922.01."
Justice Mallon said the case was "unusual".
"Ordinarily the offender would be in a position to tell counsel what had been repaid," she said.
"It is not clear why neither side provided details of the SkyCity settlement to the District Court Judge.
"On the information before us it appears that those involved either had a misguided belief that the confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement prevented its disclosure or perhaps that it was irrelevant because SkyCity received the money in civil proceedings from a third party.
"Neither of those matters made the settlement irrelevant."
Justice Mallon said the Court of Appeal considered that the full repayment to the school and the substantial recovery made by SkyCity should have been taken into account when the District Court judge determined the starting point.
"The Judge did not explain why a substantial settlement received by SkyCity was not relevant, although, in fairness to the Judge, he did not have the details of that settlement," she said.
The court agreed that the sentence should be reduced.
"It does not follow that, because we have reduced the sentence, the percentage of the minimum period of imprisonment should also be reduced," said Justice Mallon.
"The 50 per cent minimum was justified by the need to denounce and deter offending of this kind.
"The appeal is allowed. The sentences are quashed.
"Concurrent sentences of six years' imprisonment are substituted."
Justice Mallon said the fact Grant's father had been involved with the settlement was not a case of "cheque book justice", which she described as a process whereby offenders "call upon wealthy family or friends look to have their sentence reduced".
The Crown had made that suggestion in its appeal submissions.
"When the Crown made that submission it did not have details of how the settlement came about," said Justice Mallon.
"It is now apparent that the father's settlement with SkyCity, which substantially restored the money stolen from it, came from Ms Grant's assets which she had financed from her