Taito Phillip Field found guilty

BY MICHAEL FIELD AND NZPA
Last updated 18:46 04/08/2009
CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post
Former Mangere MP Taito Phillip Field.

Taito Phillip Field Guilty

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A jury in the long running Taito Phillip Field trial has found him guilty of most of the corruption and obstruction charges laid against him.

Field, former Mangere MP, was found guilty of 11 of 12 charges of bribery and corruption as an MP over having Thai nationals carry out work on his properties in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 and October 2005.

He was also found guilty of 15 of 23 charges of wilfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice, alleging he tried to derail investigations into the work on his homes.

Field, who stood in the dock, remained calm as the verdict was read out, but his family in the public gallery were in tears and expressed anger outside the court.

Field was remanded on bail to be sentenced on October 6.

Defence lawyer Paul Davison QC said he and his client were very disappointed with the verdicts.

"It's been a very long and difficult trial. It's always difficult when the outcome was not the outcome we've been working so hard to achieve."

Mr Davison said it was clear the jury had taken careful consideration, and added it was too premature to discuss a possible appeal.

Detective Superintendent Malcolm Burgess, who headed the police investigation into Field's affairs, said a significant factor in the convictions was the evidence of some of the key witnesses who were prepared to come forward and give their evidence.

"For some of them, giving evidence was an extraordinarily harrowing experience and I am grateful these witnesses had the courage to stand up and be counted."

Mr Burgess also paid tribute to the work of the police inquiry team who had been involved in the investigation for the best part of three years.

"This has taken a significant chunk out of their lives and the result is testament to their commitment, expertise and professionalism."

Police accepted the jury's decision to acquit on the other charges, Mr Burgess said.

"It seems clear the jury carefully considered all the evidence and that is all we can ask."

Police had no comment regarding a possible sentence.

Field's step-daughter, Jackie Ahtong, said she was sad and shocked by the verdict, but refused to comment any further.

After the verdict Justice Rodney Hansen paid tribute to the ''expert'' way in which the jury delivered its verdicts.

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''Those most directly affected by the verdicts could never complain they had not had a fair hearing,'' he said.

It had been a ''demanding'' and ''gruelling'' trial because of its length, sheer volume of information to absorb and pressure from the high public interest in the trial.

''You've all had to endure major disruption to your personal lives, whilst discharging one of the most important duties as citizens,'' Justice Hansen said.

''You did so with total dedication. Your careful and deliberate consideration of the evidence and the way in which you've approached your deliberations is evident to all those present in court.

''All I can do is thank you most sincerely.''

All the jury members were excused from being called for a jury trial for the next five years.

Outside court, Crown prosecutor Simon Moore said the jury had delivered ''utterly explicable'' verdicts in the circumstances.

''This has been a really important case, and bribery and corruption strikes very much at the heart of who we are as a people.''

The trial had taken up the best part of four months, with about 4000 pages of evidence, he said.

The Crown and defence closing addresses took about three days each to deliver and the judge took more than a day to close the address, Mr Moore said.

''It gives you some kind of insight into what went into this trial, which is certainly the longest I've ever done.''

 

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