19 May 2012

'Runaway millionaire' doesn't deserve jail - lawyer

6:05 am on 19 May 2012

A lawyer for the Rotorua woman found guilty theft and money laundering after Westpac mistakenly extended her partner's business account by millions of dollars says she should not be sent to jail.

Kara Hurring, 33, faced 25 charges of theft, three counts of attempting to use a document and two money laundering charges.

The jury at Rotorua District Court took less than an hour to reach its verdict on all charges.

Hurring's lawyer, Simon Lance, says he will be pushing for home detention at sentencing partly because of the secondary role she played in the theft.

Hurring flew to China in 2009 after Westpac bank gave her then partner Leo Gao access to a $10 million overdraft through his business account.

Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch says the testimony of family members made it clear Hurring knew early on about the banking error, despite claiming in court that she didn't.

During the trial in the Rotorua District Court, the jury heard from her mother, sister and a previous flatmate, as well as banking and casino staff.

Mr Pilditch said Hurring will be sentenced in August.

In a statement, Westpac thanked police for their efforts in tracing the stolen funds and bringing the case to a successful conclusion.