A real estate agent is now bankrupt after gambling away more than $250,000 which he stole from a business partner to fund his addiction.

While the businessman he stole from has found success after the setback which nearly tipped him under, he says he has not only forgiven the offender but believes gambling should be prohibited.

On 21 occasions Lewis Robert McIlroy, 70, stole commissions and marketing fees to the tune of roughly $264,000 from Andrew Spencer Murray.

This week McIlroy was sentenced in the Auckland District Court to 10 months' of home detention, 200 hours of community work and was ordered to pay $5000 in reparations.


His lawyer Chris Lahatte said it was an "unusual case" in many respects.

Normally if someone appeared before the court with theft of that sort they would be discussing the length of a jail sentence, Lahatte said.

But Lahatte said it simply emphasised the power of restorative justice, during which McIlroy had been forgiven.

"He is not trying to hide from the fact this is something he should not have done."

Lahatte also said the effect of bankruptcy on a working professional had already created a punishment for McIlroy.

Judge Allan Roberts said the offending had been able to occur because McIlory possessed an agency licence, while Murray did not, and this had formed the basis of their working relationship.

While he was training, Murray needed to work for someone who held an agency licence.

McIlroy, who worked at New Zealand-based Gulf Pacific Realty, was meant to act as something of a mentor, training Murray and ensuring legal compliance among other duties.

But for the year leading up to May 2016 he stole money from Murray.

"You had the benefit of those moneys, you frittered that benefit on gambling," Judge Roberts said.

Once the victim obtained his own licence he had his accounts reconciled through an accountant and discrepancies were noted, he said.

However, when Murray confronted McIlroy about the missing money the 70-year-old made out that it was a mistake that would be rectified.

"That didn't hold good for very long," Judge Roberts said.

Judge Roberts said the case had destroyed the victim's ability to trust, noting he had even seen McIlroy gambling at a Christmas party.

But during the restorative justice process he had heard enough to forgive McIlroy, he said.

"Your victim reiterated on a number of occasions that he does not want you to go to jail.

"That speaks volumes for him, he is indeed a forgiving man."

The reality was that reinstatement would never occur and any reparations made would only ever be "a drop in the bucket".

Murray told the Herald he had been required by law to be overseen by someone with an agency licence.

At the time he was gutted by the "massive breach of trust", but he said he had put the matter well and truly behind him.

"The worst was ringing him up and going 'I'm going to call the police, you can't do this'.

"It was my worst nightmare. It was probably the hardest thing I have been through as a business owner."

But undergoing restorative justice and seeing the effect the offending had on McIlroy's family was a turning point of sorts for Murray.

"I could see she [McIlroy's wife] was holding him accountable," he said.

"In one way your loved ones will never forget this because you've put them in such a horrible position."

Murray has grown his company to twice its size since the setback which almost tipped him under.

"It's better to just forgive him and move on," he said.

Gambling was an illness, he said.

"It made me realise gambling shouldn't be allowed in this country.

"There's no way anyone in their right mind would do that."

When sentencing McIlroy Judge Roberts took into account that he had been forgiven during restorative justice as well as his prior good character, age and guilty pleas.

The prosecutor maintained during the sentencing that a custodial sentence would have been appropriate for McIlroy due to the type of offending and quantity taken.

McIlroy's licence was suspended voluntarily on March 22 this year, according to the Real Estate Authority.

His first reparation payment, which will be made at $25 per week, is due next week.