A former Serious Fraud Office chief prosecutor has pleaded guilty to forgery charges but was this morning discharged without conviction.
Anita Maria Killeen, 35, appeared before Judge Mary Beth Sharp in Auckland District Court, where her lawyer, Paul Davison QC, entered guilty pleas to forgery and using a forged document.
The charges carry maximum jail penalties of three and 10 years.
Killeen did not speak or stand in the dock but was allowed to sit beside Mr Davison during sentencing, which lasted almost two hours.
Judge Sharp said she had indicated at a pre-sentencing application in October that she would consider a discharge without conviction under the Sentencing Act because the circumstances of the case were so unusual.
The judge outlined how an email was sent to the New Zealand Herald and the National Business Review which seemed to come from the then SFO chief executive Adam Feeley.
When the NBR brought the email to Mr Feeley's attention, forensic investigations were undertaken by PwC which revealed no such email was sent by Mr Feeley or came from the SFO.
"While there was not actual evidence to prove Ms Killeen forwarded the forged composite email, by the process of deduction it certainly appears it was sent by her to the press," the judge said.
"Ms Killeen's culpability was at the lowest possible level in respect of her offending."
This was because the prosectuor, who was up until the time of her arrest practising as a barrister, had undertaken a course of fertility medication which in 1 per cent of cases caused severe psychological side effects, Judge Sharp said.
- By Anne Gibson of the New Zealand Herald