Hidden toilet camera: Top Defence Force attache guilty

Alfred (Fred) Keating, formerly one of the Royal New Zealand Navy's top officers, is on trial in...
Alfred (Fred) Keating, formerly one of the Royal New Zealand Navy's top officers was found guilty. Photo: NZME
New Zealand's former top military attache to the United States has been found guilty of planting a hidden camera in a bathroom at our embassy in Washington.

Alfred (Fred) Keating's nearly two-week trial in the Auckland District Court has come to a close this afternoon as the forewoman read the jury's decision to the court.

They had found the former Assistant Chief of Navy was the man who planting a covert camera in a unisex bathroom at New Zealand's embassy in Washington DC.

Keating, who held the high-rank of commodore, was the senior defence attache to the US during July 2017, when he attempted to make an intimate visual recording of another person.

The former commander of the Devonport Naval Base faces up to 18 months' imprisonment.

He will be sentenced later this year.

Keating's jury, which retired just after 10am, has sat through a trial which at times has been held behind locked doors for national security reasons.

Early in the trial, Judge Robert Ronayne warned the jurors about some of the evidence they would hear.

He said it was "terribly important" that no classified material or court documents were taken home by the jurors and nothing was discussed outside of the jury room.

A secret witness' identity was also suppressed by the judge for national security reasons.

Yesterday, Crown prosecutor Henry Steele asked the jury to consider if Keating was "absurdly unlucky" and the victim of unfortunate coincidence or was he "the bloke who put the camera in the toilet"?

Steele's case against the 59-year-old has largely relied on the recovered internet activity on Keating's laptop, the naval officer's DNA profile being found on the hidden camera's SD card, CCTV footage and swipe card records from the embassy.

Keating's defence lawyer Ron Mansfield, however, criticised the methods used to test for DNA.

The "low copy number DNA test" is not used by some overseas jurisdictions because of the high-risk of contamination and cost, the court heard.

Mansfield also yesterday said the police and embassy's investigation after the camera was discovered on July 27, 2017, was "inept and incomplete".

He said the DNA evidence on the camera and memory card had been contaminated after several embassy staffers handled the device after it was found.

He compared the diplomatic outpost's incompetence to an episode of Dad's Army.

Keating's more than 40-year Defence Force career came to an end as a result of the allegations and he resigned just two days after he pleaded not guilty last March.

He had also served as New Zealand's naval attache and senior technical officer for the navy to the US from July 2003 until December 2006.