A judge has opted to let an offender keep working, going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and paying back $13,471 he stole from an employer through his drinking and gambling.
Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish said Andrew Richard Coleman was “in the wrong industry to start with” – a problem drinker managing a liquor store in St Albans.
Coleman was drinking heavily when he lost his money at the Christchurch Casino, and then returned to the liquor shop after 11pm when it was closed, and used his personal code to deactivate the alarm before taking bags of cash from the safe.
He did this twice, returning to the casino intending to win his money back, but both times he lost all that money as well.
In February, Coleman, 39, admitted the charge of theft by failing to account for the funds, and was remanded for sentence.
Defence counsel Peter Doody said Coleman’s offending happened at a time when he was struggling with a relationship breakdown and family health issues. He had fallen into the trap of dealing with the problems by drinking, and he was seen as a high risk drinker.
“He now realises that sobriety is his only option,” said Mr Doody.
Judge Farish said Coleman was an effective first offender. He had lost his job but had found other work as an asbestos remover, a job that took commitment and courage.
She decided not to impose community detention which would have prevented him doing his present work, because of the protective clothing he would have to wear while wearing an electronic bracelet.
She decided he could continue working, attending regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and pay back all the money he took at a rate of $40 a week.
She imposed 300 hours of community work, and 12 months of intensive supervision with a condition that he must undertake assessment and counselling for substance abuse or other programmes as directed.