A woman who stole more than $140,000 from her employer over a period of almost three years has had her sentence reduced following an appeal in the High Court at Rotorua.

Stephanie Ann Elmiger was found guilty of 211 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship following a judge-alone trial.

She was found to have stolen $140,654.42 between November 2013 and June 2016 from Taupō's Central Motor Group Ltd.

At her sentencing in February, company owner Richard Blakeney-Williams snr said he couldn't believe "the scale of her deceit, her colossal breach of trust".


Elmiger was sentenced to two years, eight months' imprisonment and ordered to pay $190,594.17 - the amount taken plus costs relating to forensic accounting services paid for by the victim company.

She appealed both her conviction and sentence.

In a judgement released to the Rotorua Daily Post, Justice Anne Hinton quashed the conviction appeal but reduced Elmiger's sentence to two years and four months' imprisonment.

Elmiger's lawyer, Jonathan Temm, argued Elmiger had changed her election of trial by jury to trial by a judge under duress.

The trial was originally scheduled to start with 435 charges before a jury and Temm argued Elmiger was left with no choice but to face a judge-alone trial because the judge indicated the number of charges was "oppressive and overwhelming for a jury".

More than half of Elmiger's charges were dismissed.

Justice Hinton rejected the argument.

"There is nothing to suggest there was a miscarriage of justice because of duress or unfair pressure."


Justice Hinton also found the trial judge took into account Elmiger's position of authority at the company she stole from and considered that in relation to certain transactions.

In appealing the sentence Temm argued the starting point was too high, the discount for personal factors too low, having to pay reparation for the private forensic accounting was wrong, and that the judge had rejected a pre-sentence report recommendation of home detention.

Temm argued the sentence should be two years so home detention could be considered.

Justice Hinton agreed the starting point of three years and two months imprisonment was too high but the discount and reparation orders were adequate.

"The fact there has been full reparation should be taken into account in the starting point. The reparation was involuntary, granted, but it still reduced the harm suffered by the victim."

Hinton found a starting point of two years and 10 months would have been more appropriate. The 16 per cent discount for mitigating factors brought the sentence to two years and four months' imprisonment.

"This is a difference of four months from Judge [Tony] Snell's sentence ... I consider this is sufficient of a difference to conclude that the sentence is manifestly excessive. I would therefore allow the appeal in this respect."

Justice Hinton dismissed the appeal against conviction and said the reparation orders would stand but reduced Elmiger's sentence.