Staff member admits misusing EQC resources

September 9, 2014 | By More

Court House-Sept-2013-05A woman has admitted using EQC cars, fuel cards, and a cellphone for her own purposes while she was on the staff.

At her Christchurch District Court sentencing on October 29, Epenesa Valavala will apply for a discharge without conviction after admitting five charges today.

Judge Alistair Garland did not enter convictions for the 24-year-old, who is no longer employed at EQC. The decision on convictions will made at the sentencing, for which he has ordered a pre-sentence report which will consider her suitability for home and community detention.

Valavala had pleaded not guilty, but then admitted the charges at a case review hearing today.

She has admitted three charges of unlawfully converting vehicles to her own use, obtaining by deception, and dishonestly using a document.

Police prosecutor Stephen Burdes told the court Valavala had been employed by EQC in Christchurch for two years until her job was terminated in May.

“As part of her duties she had access to a pool of motor vehicles. These motor vehicles were only to be used for legitimate EQC work purposes and were not to be used for personal use or taken home at the weekends,” he said.

Valavala took one car home during February and March and while she had it a tyre was damaged. She replaced the damaged wheel with a space saver wheel from the boot and abandoned the car in Detroit Place, Addington.

From March to April, Valavala drove another car home and used it extensively for personal use. It was found by staff a short distance down the road from her address.

A third vehicle was taken in early April and was used for about a month before another EQC staff member found it parked at Valavala’s address.

While she was driving the vehicles for personal use, she was also filling up the vehicles using fuel cards supplied by EQC with each vehicle. The police summary of facts lists three fill-ups totalling $230.

When Valavala’s own cellphone stopped working, she used her work phone to make personal calls and ran up a debt of $1034.

When interviewed, she admitted the offending. She is a first offender.

Defence counsel Phillip Allan said she would apply for the discharge without conviction. Mr Burdes told the court the police would oppose the discharge.

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