The owners of Harrison's HireMaster Wanganui felt sick when they discovered a trusted employee had stolen $23,562.43 from them over four-and-a-half years.

Benjamin Steven Wright was hired by Karine and Grant Harrison in 2013 and during his employment he used a refund card 216 times, pocketing the money for himself.

Grant Harrison read a victim impact statement in Whanganui District Court when Wright appeared for sentencing on Thursday having previously pleaded guilty to theft.

Harrison said that he and his wife Karine only discovered what Wright had been doing when they received an anonymous letter in their mailbox.


"The writer of the letter claimed to have overheard you bragging about how you had ripped us off. We didn't want to believe it," Harrison said.

"After looking into all your transactions and discovering what you'd done, we were so disappointed. We trusted you. To think you bragged about it infuriates us."

The Harrisons trusted Wright so much that during his time with them, his responsibilities were increased and he even ran the business in their absence.

Harrison said they have employed former prisoners for 17 years and that Wright was always judgemental, often Googling them and gossiping about them at work.

"At the end of the day, we have more trust and respect for those people than we have for you," he said.

"It made us sick to know that you were coming to work every day and stealing from us."

Harrison also said they had helped Wright through personal issues and he had changed their thoughts on trusting people, including their 12 remaining staff.

Lawyer Roger Crowley said that a pre-sentence report indicated that Wright was ambivalent about his offending, but that this was not the case.


Soon after his arrest, Wright had given Crowley a letter of apology which was sent to police by Crowley's office.

"My client is both ashamed for his actions and remorseful," Crowley said.

"He's ruined a relationship that he had for a long time with the Harrisons and he regrets that. He's ruined his reputation. It's a fall from grace."

Crowley had $5900 ready to transfer to the Harrisons as part of Wright's reparation.

Wright had been able to save the money as he has gained employment with another employer, who is aware of his offending.

Crowley submitted that Wright's immediate guilty plea, decent effort at reparation, apology letter and clean history stood him in good stead.

Judge Philip Crayton took this into account when sentencing Wright, as well as his offer to take part in restorative justice.

Judge Crayton said Wright's offending had a significant affect on Harrison's HireMaster Wanganui.

"The obvious way is financial. It is money that is not there to support the business as it should be," the judge said.

"The other way of course is, it loses customer goodwill because some of these refunds should have been paid and were not.

"What is also plain is that this was not driven by need, but simply driven by greed and because you could."

Judge Crayton sentenced Wright to 10-and-a-half months' home detention with 12 months' post detention conditions.

The judge said he had considered whether the offending was so serious that imprisonment was the only option.

"I am aware that employment will give you the ability to pay reparation in a significant way because the balance will be paid by you," Judge Crayton said.

"Your employer, who was betrayed by you, will not be out of pocket. Although I anticipate it will be many years potentially before that will be paid in full."

He ordered Wright to pay the remaining $17,662.43.