Tony Bull had been mates with Paul Dyson for five decades.
They’d been at Owairoa Primary School in Howick together and eventually became electrical contracting business partners, working together at Dyson and Bull for 30 years.
And Paul’s wife Barbara was a part of the close-knit team. Tony and his wife Christine even went on holidays with the Dysons.
There was a bond, a very strong friendship.
So when hundreds of thousands of dollars could not properly be accounted for, Mr Bull felt betrayed.
Barbara Dyson was sentenced this year in the Auckland District Court to eight months’ home detention for stealing $68,000 from the company.
In the end, the misuse of funds over many years ended with the company Dyson & Bull collapsing.
Judge EM Thomas in his judgment of February 16 alluded to a “background of obviously a lot more that went on with extremely serious consequences for the company. Not just for the company. For Mr Bull, and also for you and your husband”.
Mrs Dyson had already paid Mr Bull $460,000 following mediation.
“It was only then that your activities in relation to these transactions and others was discovered and you entered into a settlement with Mr Bull and the IRD,” Judge Thomas said.
The two separate settlements totalled $760,000.
“This is deliberate dishonest behaviour and that is what you have pleaded guilty to,”
Ultimately Mrs Dyson had been left in control of the records and the payments and had access to everything needed to control both.
“Between 2006 and 2014 when the company was wound up, you illegitimately used company funds to pay your own personal costs,” the judge said.
“There was certainly a period of several years where you simply, dishonestly took money from the company to pay your own personal costs. Often that would be accompanied with deliberately putting false entries in the system to cover up what you had done.”
Mrs Dyson was lucky to escape jail. In his sentencing deliberations, Judge Thomas set a starting point of two years’ imprisonment. He acknowledged she had no previous convictions and had paid a significant settlement.
Meanwhile Christine Bull said the company split because her husband realised “something was happening and they started pushing him away”.
Since the discovery they have been dealing with the fallout from the deception.
“Time is priceless because it cannot be replaced,” Mr Bull said.
“All because of their greed, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the last few years dealing with everything.
“(There’s been) the sleepless nights, the whole trust breakdown which will forever have me doubting people’s true intentions, which is a crying shame.”
Mrs Dyson was the only one charged.
“Now the record will be set straight and their true characters known,” Mr Bull says.
A prosecution — and mediation – has taken around four years.
“It’s sad really — that’s the arrogance of them…never again.”