Top military attache Alfred Keating sentenced to home detention over hidden camera in embassy
Anneke Smith, RNZ court reporter
A top military attache has been sentenced to home detention after he tried to film his colleagues on the toilet in the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC.
Alfred Keating in the dock. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith
Alfred Keating, 59, was found guilty of attempting to make an intimate visual recording after a two week trial in the Auckland District Court in April and was sentenced to four and a half months of home detention today.
He was the country's top Defence Force official when he planted a covert camera in a bathroom in the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC in 2017.
This morning Crown prosecutor Henry Steele said the attempted recording was serious offending that exploited and abused the trust of Keating's colleagues and country.
He said the high level of premeditation was reflected in the defendant obtaining a covert camera, running test recordings and using latex gloves to ensure he didn't leave any DNA on the camera.
Mr Steele read aloud a victim impact statement written by Benjamin King from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which outlined significant and enduring impacts on those who worked in the embassy.
The court heard the toilet was used by staff and their families who were shocked and distressed about the violation of privacy.
Mr King wrote the offending was a "deep abuse of trust" and those working in the embassy remained concerned about what may have been captured and distributed by Keating.
Mr Steele told the court the fact the criminal charge was an attempt to make an intimate visual recording made the offending no less profound and asked for a starting point of 10 to 12 months' imprisonment.
Keating's defence lawyer Ron Mansfield told the court his client's personal and professional life was now in tatters after 42 years of service to his country.
Mr Mansfield said Keating acknowledged his abuse of trust and the impact on his former colleagues and asked for a lower starting point of 10 months' imprisonment.
Judge Robert Ronayne said Keating had tried to film his colleagues for his own sexual gratification and, after trying to blame another colleague for his offending during his trial, had no remorse for his actions.
The judge said 13 victim impact statements had been filed that captured the ongoing impacts of Keating's offending.
"Without exception they speak of their surprise and disappointment at your offending and the crippling breach of trust it represents.
"The victims also variously describe their sense of violation and betrayal that someone within the embassy, described by many as being like a family, would be responsible for such an act."
He said offending was a significant breach of trust, highly premeditated and involved incredibly vulnerable victims who were still affected by Keating's actions.
Judge Ronanyne said the absence of an honest explanation for the "bizarre and reprehensible" offending meant he could only assume he committed it for sexual gratification.
"The height from which you have fallen is self-inflicted and a natural consequence of your offending."
He sentenced him to four months and 15 days of home detention.
The Brickhouse Security device - which looks like a small black box - was discovered by an embassy staffer after it fell from a heating duct in the unisex bathroom on 27 July.
Video recordings found on the device showed a person wearing a pair of blue latex gloves placing it in the duct, with a full shot of the bathroom's toilet.
However, only one person was filmed using the toilet that day before the camera fell on its side and captured people's feet as they moved around the bathroom.
Investigations found the device had been placed on a dusty piece of cardboard and top air force official later told the court he'd seen the box in the toilet months before it was found.
During the trial the court heard a DNA profile found on the covert camera's SD card was 10,000 million times more likely to be Keating's than a random New Zealander's.
It also heard his personal laptop had at one time been connected to a Brickhouse Security camera and had made Google searches relating to the camera brand.